Abstract

The wetting phenomenon is a major problem in the membrane distillation (MD) process, and it is the main reason that limits MD being used in wastewater reclamation. Active surfactant in the detergents reduces the contact angle between the liquid and the hydrophobic membrane surface, which could result in wetting. Extensive laboratory research was conducted using commercial hydrophobic flat-sheet membranes to identify the impact of anionic surfactants and surface tension forces on these membranes. The aim of this paper is to find a suitable membrane for pure water production from greywater using MD, as well as to provide a relationship between surfactant concentration and the contact angle for different types of membrane. The absorbance of each sample was measured by a spectrophotometer prior to the contact angle test on four different types of hydrophobic membranes. It was concluded that the polypropylene membrane would be unsuitable for the treatment of greywater directly due to the loss of surface tension forces upon the addition of an anionic surfactant. However, the polytetrafluoroethylene membrane could be effective in this process while the concentration of surfactant in the feed source is kept constant. The results from the experimental tests proposed a relationship between the contact angle of a water droplet on the surface of a flat-sheet membrane and the concentration of surfactant in the solution.

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