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Produced Water Desalination via Pervaporative Distillation

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Herein, we report on the performance of a hybrid organic-ceramic hydrophilic pervaporation membrane applied in a vacuum membrane distillation operating mode to desalinate laboratory prepared saline waters and a hypersaline water modeled after a real oil and gas produced water. The rational for performing “pervaporative distillation” is that highly contaminated waters like produced water, reverse osmosis concentrates and industrial have high potential to foul and scale membranes, and for traditional porous membrane distillation membranes they can suffer pore-wetting and complete salt passage. In most of these processes, the hard to treat feed water is commonly softened and filtered prior to a desalination process. This study evaluates pervaporative distillation performance treating: (1) NaCl solutions from 10 to 240 g/L at crossflow Reynolds numbers from 300 to 4800 and feed-temperatures from 60 to 85 °C and (2) a real produced water composition chemically softened to reduce its high-scale forming mineral content. The pervaporative distillation process proved highly-effective at desalting all feed streams, consistently delivering <10 mg/L of dissolved solids in product water under all operating condition tested with reasonably high permeate fluxes (up to 23 LMH) at optimized operating conditions.

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