The use of membrane technology is growing by 10–15% per annum, in response to increasing demands for high-quality water, and the need to reclaim and recycle used water.
This Special Issue of Desalination, on Desalination using Membrane Technology, is based on presentations at the 1st Conference on Desalination using Membrane Technology, which took place in April 2013 in Sitges, Spain. The conference showcased developments in membrane-based desalination, reclamation, and wastewater treatment.
This Special Issue, compiled by Guest Editors Professor Tony Fane of the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre at Nanyang Technological University, and Associate Professor Chuyang Tang at the University of Hong Kong, illustrates the remarkable breadth of modern membrane technology.
More than one-third of the papers deal with reverse osmosis (RO), mainly seawater RO. Several papers look at modelling RO membranes, including molecular dynamic simulations of the commonly used polyamide membrane, and a next-generation RO membrane based on carbon nanotubes. Another paper simulates nanofiltration (NF) performance incorporating dielectric exclusion.
The topic of RO fouling includes papers on nanocolloid fouling, the prediction of fouling trends, and papers on biofouling as influenced by pretreatment and spacer type. And the effects of RO properties, such as heterogeneity and chemical damage, on membrane performance are also presented. One study shows that the impact of brine discharge on local microbial communities can be measured effectively by flow cytometry.
The ongoing interest in forward osmosis (FO) is evident in papers on a new commercial thin-film composite (TFC) FO membrane, a novel FO membrane using a mixed matrix formulation, and another using polydopamine modification. A novel FO-thermal hybrid system is also described.
The ‘non-osmotic’ membrane processes are also well represented in this Special Issue. Three papers discuss electromembrane processes, including treatment of acid mine drainage and spent pickle liquor, and a basic study of mass transfer phenomena. Recovery of metals from aqueous solution is described, using NF for heavy metals and polymer-assisted ultrafiltration (UF) for copper and zinc. An unusual application for chloride removal involves ionic liquids in a supported liquid membrane.
Several papers examine membrane technology for aqueous–organic systems, including a photocatalytic hybrid membrane process for dye waste, three papers dealing with vegetable oils, and a paper on separation of amino acids with membranes. Low-pressure (LP) membranes are also represented, with three papers on aspects of LP membrane fouling.