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Open AccessArticle

CFD Investigation of Spacer-Filled Channels for Membrane Distillation

1
Dipartimento di Ingegneria, Università degli Studi di Palermo, viale delle Scienze ed.6, 90128 Palermo, Italy
2
Center of Excellence in Desalination Technology, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
3
Mechanical Engineering Department, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah 21589, Saudi Arabia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Membranes 2019, 9(8), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes9080091
Received: 11 June 2019 / Revised: 12 July 2019 / Accepted: 15 July 2019 / Published: 25 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Membrane Distillation Process)
The membrane distillation (MD) process for water desalination is affected by temperature polarization, which reduces the driving force and the efficiency of the process. To counteract this phenomenon, spacer-filled channels are used, which enhance mixing and heat transfer but also cause higher pressure drops. Therefore, in the design of MD modules, the choice of the spacer is crucial for process efficiency. In the present work, different overlapped spacers are investigated by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and results are compared with experiments carried out with thermochromic liquid crystals (TLC). Results are reported for different flow attack angles and for Reynolds numbers (Re) ranging from ~200 to ~800. A good qualitative agreement between simulations and experiments can be observed for the areal distribution of the normalized heat transfer coefficient. Trends of the average heat transfer coefficient are reported as functions of Re for the geometries investigated, thus providing the basis for CFD-based correlations to be used in higher-scale process models. View Full-Text
Keywords: desalination; membrane distillation; spacer-filled channel; temperature polarization; computational fluid dynamics; thermochromic liquid crystals desalination; membrane distillation; spacer-filled channel; temperature polarization; computational fluid dynamics; thermochromic liquid crystals
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La Cerva, M.; Cipollina, A.; Ciofalo, M.; Albeirutty, M.; Turkmen, N.; Bouguecha, S.; Micale, G. CFD Investigation of Spacer-Filled Channels for Membrane Distillation. Membranes 2019, 9, 91.

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