Membrane technology as an emerging separation process has become competitive with other separation techniques in recent decades. Among pressure-driven and isothermal membrane processes, membrane distillation (MD) as a thermally driven process has come out to put an end to hardships of such processes like distillation. MD process can be used in a wide variety of applications such as desalination and wastewater treatment. Generally, MD is a process which water is a main component of the feed solution and only water vapor can pass through a hydrophobic membrane pores. With four main configurations different from each other by their condensation procedure, the performance of MD process is limited due to the lack of appropriate module, membrane, and energy consumption rate. In recent years, many experiments have been carried out to find well-suited membrane type and module. Also, applying solar or waste heat as heat source and the capability of coupling with other processes like forward osmosis and osmotic distillation distinguish MD process from other membrane processes. This chapter addresses membrane characteristics, MD applications, transport mechanisms, and process challenges.
Part of the book: Advances in Membrane Technologies