The direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) applied for desalination of brackish groundwater with self-made polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membranes was presented in the paper. The PVDF membrane exhibited high rejection of non-volatile inorganic salt solutes and a maximum permeate flux 24.5 kg m−2 h−1 was obtained with feed temperature at 70°C. The DCMD experimental results indicated that the feed concentration had no significant influence on the permeate flux and the rejection of solute. When natural groundwater was used directly as the feed, the precipitation of CaCO3 would be formed and clog the hollow fibre inlets with gradual concentration of the feed, which resulted in a rapid decline of the module efficiency. The negative influence of scaling could be eliminated by acidification of the feed. Finally, a 250 h DCMD continuous desalination experiment of acidified groundwater with the concentration factor at constant 4.0 was carried out. The permeate flux kept stable and the permeate conductivity was less than 7.0 μS cm−1 during this process. Furthermore, there was no deposit observed on the membrane surface. All of these demonstrated that DCMD could be efficiently used for production of high-quality potable water from brackish groundwater with water recovery as high as 75%.
Keywords: brackish groundwater, desalination, membrane distillation