Comparison the performance of different reverse osmosis membrane modules by CFD modeling

Document Type: Research note

Authors

1 Department of Chemical Technologies, Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST), P. O. Box: 33535111, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Chemical Technologies, Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST), P.O. Box 33535111, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Biotechnology, Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST), P. O. Box: 33535111, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Reverse osmosis is a commonly used process in water desalination. Due to the scarcity of freshwater resources and wastewater problems, a lot of theory and experimental studies have been conducted to optimize this process. In the present study, the performance of reverse osmosis membrane module of salt–water separation was simulated based on computational fluid dynamics technique and solution-diffusion theory. Eight geometries of membrane modules four flat sheets, and four tubular membranes were investigated. It was found that if the membrane surface area and inlet flow rate were kept constant for the eight modules, the pressure drop and permeated flow rate would be approximately similar for some geometries (such as the performance of primary flat sheet channel is same as 3 tubular membranes with R=1/3 Rref). The results also showed that because of the phenomenon of concentration polarization, if it is possible to use more membranes with a smaller length, it can reduce the pressure drop and increase the permeation flux of water. Furthermore, the results showed that in similar conditions between the tubular and the plate membranes; the tubular one is more suitable for the water permeation due to its ease of construction and its ability to withstand ECP.

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