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This content will become publicly available on February 27, 2019

Title: Prevention and management of silica scaling in membrane distillation using pH adjustment

Membrane scaling by silica is a major challenge in desalination, particularly for inland desalination of brackish groundwater or geothermal resources, which often contain high concentrations of silica and dissolved solids. Adjustment of feed pH may reduce silica scaling risk, which is important for inland facilities that operate at high water recoveries to reduce brine disposal costs. However, water recovery of reverse osmosis is also limited due to increased osmotic pressure with feed water concentration. Membrane distillation (MD) is a thermally driven membrane desalination technique that is not limited by increased osmotic pressure of the feed. In this investigation, pH adjustment was tested as a strategy to reduce silica scaling risk in the MD process. With feed water pH less than 5 or higher than 10, scaling impacts were negligible at silica concentrations up to 600 mg/L. Scaling rates were highest at neutral pH between 6 and 8. Cleaning strategies were also explored to remove silica scale from membranes. Cleaning using NaOH solutions at pH higher than 11 to induce dissolution of silica scale was effective at temporarily restoring performance; however, some silica remained on membrane surfaces and scaling upon re-exposure to supersaturated silica concentrations occurred faster than with new membranes.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [1]
  1. Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO (United States)
  2. US Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO (United States)
  3. Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
  4. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0376-7388
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Journal of Membrane Science
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 554; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0376-7388
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Geothermal Technologies Office (EE-4G)
Country of Publication:
United States
15 GEOTHERMAL ENERGY; membrane distillation; membrane scaling; membrane fouling; membrane cleaning; silica
OSTI Identifier: