On the Morphological Characterization Procedures of Multilayer Hydrophobic Ceramic Membranes for Membrane Distillation Operations

Membranes (Basel). 2019 Sep 23;9(10):125. doi: 10.3390/membranes9100125.


The paper introduces some aspects of the characterization of hydrophobized multilayer ceramic membranes intended for use in membrane distillation (MD) operations. Four-layer hydrophobic carbon-based titania membranes, manufactured by the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS, Hermsdorf, Germany), were tested according to the gas permeation technique. Gas permeance data were elaborated following the premises of the dusty gas model, to calculate the average pore size and the porosity-tortuosity ratio of each layer. Membrane testing was the opportunity to discuss which characterization method is more appropriate to obtain the membrane parameters necessary for the simulation of membranes in MD processes. In the case of multilayer membranes, the calculation of the morphological parameters should be performed for each layer. The "layer-by-layer gas permeation" method, previously introduced by other authors and completed in this work, is more appropriate for obtaining representative parameters of the membrane. Conversely, the calculation of morphological parameters, averaged over the entire membrane, might lead to heavy underestimations of the total membrane resistance and then to a heavy error on the transmembrane flux simulation.

Keywords: gas permeance; hydrophobic ceramic membranes; membrane characterization; morphological parameters; multilayer membrane.