Abstract

A comprehensive experimental investigation is conducted to evaluate the performance of a new flux-enhanced compact water gap membrane distillation (WGMD) module design with gap circulation and cooling for water desalination. The new design uses a separate circulation loop to circulate the gap water, and a built-in heat exchanger coil implanted inside the coolant stream channel for cooling the circulated gap water. The WGMD modules with circulation and with circulation and cooling are compared with conventional WGMD without circulation. Variations of distillate flux, temperatures, and energy consumption are presented at different design operating conditions. Circulation and cooling of the gap water greatly enhance the output flux due to gap water motion and increase the temperature difference between membrane surfaces. However, the enhancement in flux was achieved at the expense of energy consumption. Circulation and cooling of gap water are more effective with bigger gap widths. Feed flowrate showed significant effects with gap water circulation and cooling. The electrical specific energy consumption (SEC) showed the best value of 7.9 and 8.8 kWh/m3 at a feed temperature of 70 °C for both conventional WGMD and WGMD with circulation modules, while the best value of SEC for the WGMD module with gap circulation and cooling was 9.4 kWh/m3 at a feed temperature of 80 °C.

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