Design of robust hollow fiber membranes with high power density for osmotic energy production

S. Zhang, P. Sukitpaneenit, T.-S. Chung
Chemical Engineering Journal, volume 241, p. 457465, (2014)

Design of robust hollow fiber membranes with high power density for osmotic energy production


Thin film composite,  Hollow fiber,  Polyethersulfone,  Pressure retarded osmosis,  Osmotic power


This study highlights the design strategy of highly asymmetric hollow fiber membranes that possess both characteristics of high flux and high mechanical strength to effectively reap the osmotic energy from seawater brine with an ultrahigh power density. An advanced co-extrusion technology was employed to fabricate the polyethersulfone (PES) hollow fiber supports with diversified structures from macrovoid to sponge-like. The microstructure of the supports is found critical for the stability and water permeability of the thin film composite (TFC) membranes. A high porosity in the porous layer is needed to reduce internal concentration polarization, while a thick and relatively dense skin layer underneath the TFC layer is required to maintain good mechanical stability and stress dissipation. The pore size of the supporting layer underneath the TFC layer must be small with a narrow pore size distribution to ensure the formation of a less-defective, highly permeable and mechanically stable TFC layer. The newly developed hollow fiber comprising high asymmetry, high porosity, and a thick skin layer with a small and narrow pore size distribution underneath the TFC layer produces a maximum power density of 24.3 W/m2 at 20.0 bar by using 1 M NaCl as the concentrated brine and deionized (DI) water as the feed. The proposed design strategy for ultrahigh power density membranes clearly advances the osmotic energy production close to commercialization with a quite cost-effective and practicable approach.


DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2013.10.063


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