Fluoride removal from groundwater using direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) and vacuum enhanced DCMD (VEDCMD)

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Journal Article
Separation and Purification Technology, 2017, 180 pp. 125 - 132
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Groundwater resources are under growing pressures in water scarce countries. Membrane distillation (MD) is an interesting option for drinking water production from groundwater with elevated salinity and fluoride (F) contamination. A direct contact MD (DCMD) at a moderate feed temperature of 55 °C was able to concentrate a synthetic solution representing F contaminated groundwater. An average initial flux of 13.3 L/m2/h was achieved at 75% water recovery, resulting in only 15–17% flux decline, while producing high quality permeate (96–99% F rejection). Membrane autopsy showed presence of Ca, Na, S and Mg on the used membrane. Particularly, 51–53% F precipitation was estimated in line with the saturation index (SI) model. The used MD membrane with groundwater showed only 10–12% reduction in membrane hydrophobicity, which was largely recovered with simple cleaning. Meanwhile, synthetic groundwater solution spiked with humic substances resulted in brownish deposition on MD membrane, reducing the membrane hydrophobicity significantly by 37–40%. Additionally, DCMD operation with vacuum at the permeate side (vacuum enhanced DCMD; VEDCMD) was beneficial in increasing the permeate flux by 42%. Continuous VEDCMD operation with intermediate membrane cleaning showed positive results in treating F contained groundwater while producing good quality permeate at 67% water recovery.
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