Membrane Research Capabilities
The CWE has extensive capabilities for desalination and membrane research, including both bench- and pilot-scale equipment, for research on both membrane filtration (microfiltration and ultrafiltration) and desalination (nanofiltration and reverse osmosis) technologies.
Microfiltration (MF) and ultrafiltration (UF) membrane equipment includes a variety of flat sheet membrane cells and pressure vessels. We build our own single-fiber hollow-fiber membrane elements for bench-scale testing. Timers allow backwashable operation and data acquisition systems are used to record flux and pressure.
Bench-scale desalination research is conducted with an Osmonics SEPA CF-II flat sheet cross-flow membrane cell, fed by a 1-gpm, 1000-psi Wanner Hydrocell pump with variable frequency drive. The system is fully instrumented with data acquisition for flow, pressure, temperature, conductivity, and pH being collected with Labview.
We designed and constructed a novel flat-sheet cross-flow membrane cell that allows 5 individual sheets of membrane to be tested simultaneously. The membranes can be configured in series or parallel, and membranes can be added or removed independently. The system allows examination of multiple materials in parallel, or time-dependent experiments such as growth of foulant layers on RO membrane surfaces.
We own two 5-gpm pilot-scale brackish water RO skid. They contains three 4x40 membrane elements in series and are capable of achieving 75 percent recovery. One is fully instrumented with data acquisition system for continuously recording temperature, pressure, and flow. A unique aspect of the skid is that it allows the permeate flow from each pressure vessel to be measured independently, so that the variation in performance over a series of membrane elements can be evaluated.
A bench-scale membrane distillation cell has been designed and constructed. The system has circulating baths and heat exchangers to maintain constant temperatures on both the feed and permeate sides, and is instrumented for measurement of temperature, pressure, feed and permeate flow, and flux.