This work addresses the potentialities of vacuum membrane distillation (VMD) using hollow fibre membranes for seawater desalination. Experiments were carried out with a synthetic salty water containing a concentration of NaCl from 0 up to 300 g/L. A Microza (Pall) hollow fibre module was used. Experimental results show that, for this module, concentration polarisation and heat transfer limitations are not significant and do not modify the permeate flux. This is a great advantage over reverse osmosis (RO). Energy consumption was then studied using computations based on modelling. Two different industrial plants were considered: the first one consisted of hollow fibre modules arranged in series and operated in a single-pass. The second one was designed for a discontinuous operation using a circulation loop. Computations clearly show the interest (low energy consumption) of VMD for seawater desalination in comparison with RO.

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