This study designed and tested a novel type of solar-energy-integrated vacuum membrane distillation (VMD) system for seawater desalination under actual environmental conditions in Wuhan, China. The system consists of eight parts: a seawater tank, solar collector, solar cooker, inclined VMD evaporator, circulating water vacuum pump, heat exchanger, fresh water tank, and brine tank. Natural seawater was used as feed and a hydrophobic hollow-fiber membrane module was used to improve seawater desalination. The experiment was conducted during a typical summer day. Results showed that when the highest ambient temperature was 33 °C, the maximum value of the average solar intensity was 1,080 W/m2. The system was able to generate 36 kg (per m2 membrane module) distilled fresh water during 1 day (8:00 am until 6:00 pm), the retention rate was between 99.67 and 99.987%, and electrical conductivity was between 0.00276 and 0.0673 ms/cm. The average salt rejection was over 90%. The proposed VMD system shows favorable potential application in desalination of brackish waters or high-salt wastewater treatment, as well.
- hollow-fiber membrane
- seawater solar energy
- vacuum membrane distillation
- First received 25 November 2015.
- Accepted in revised form 1 February 2016.
- © IWA Publishing 2016