Browsing UA Faculty Research by Journal
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Economic performance of membrane distillation configurations in optimal solar thermal desalination systemsIn this study we provide a comprehensive evaluation of the economic performance and viability of solar membrane distillation (MD). To achieve this goal, process models based on mass and energy balances were used to find the minimum cost of water in MD systems. Three MD configurations: direct contact, sweeping gas, and vacuum MD, were compared in terms of economic cost and energy requirements in optimized, solar-driven desalination systems constrained to produce 10 m(3) d(-1) of distillate from 3.5% or 15% salinity water. Simulation results were used to calculate the water production cost as a function of 13 decision variables, including equipment size and operational variables. Non-linear optimization was performed using the particle swarm algorithm to minimize water production costs and identify optimal values for all decision variables. Results indicate that vacuum MD outperforms alternative MD configurations both economically and energetically, desalting water at a cost of less than $15 per cubic meter of product water (both initial salt levels). The highest fraction of total cost for all configurations at each salinity level was attributed to the solar thermal collectors-approximately 25% of the total present value cost. Storing energy in any form was economically unfavorable; the optimization scheme selected the smallest battery and hot water tank size allowed. Direct contact MD consumed significantly more energy (primarily thermal) than other MD forms, leading to higher system economic costs as well.
Forward osmosis and pressure retarded osmosis process modeling for integration with seawater reverse osmosis desalinationOsmotically driven membrane processes such as forward osmosis and pressure retarded osmosis may hold key advantages when integrated with seawater reverse osmosis to form hybrid FO-RO and RO-PRO systems. In this work, module-scale modeling of these two processes was improved by accurately representing the features of a spiral-wound membrane. The model captures important characteristics such as the cross-flow stream orientation, membrane baffling, and channel dimensions unique to spiral-wound membranes. The new module-scale model was then scaled to the system-level to compare various system designs for FO-RO and RO-PRO systems, most notably, a multi-stage recharge design was defined. Results indicate that the multi-stage recharge design leads to an increase in wastewater utilization, as high as 90%, when compared to the single-stage designs. Additionally, the multi-stage recharge configuration can increase the specific energy recovery of pressure retarded osmosis by over 75%. The multi-stage recharge design is found to be not only advantageous but may be also necessary to the integration of osmotically driven membrane processes with seawater reverse osmosis.
Process modeling for economic optimization of a solar driven sweeping gas membrane distillation desalination systemWater scarcity is especially impactful in remote and impoverished communities without access to centralized water treatment plants. In areas with access to a saline water source, point-of-use desalination by solar-driven membrane distillation (MD) is a possible method for mitigating water scarcity. To evaluate the applicability of MD, a comprehensive process model was developed and used to design an economically optimal system. Thermal energy for distillation was provided by solar thermal collectors, and electricity was provided using photovoltaic collectors. Distillation was performed using sweeping-gas membrane distillation. The cost of water in the optimized system was approximately $85/m(3). Membrane modules and solar thermal collectors made up the largest portion of the cost. Neither thermal nor electrical energy storage was economical within current technologies. The model developed provides a template to optimize MD membrane characteristics specialized for point-of-use applications.