Membrane Free Volume Characterization

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Free Volume in Reverse Osmosis Membrane

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is the leading technique for water desalination. RO membranes have been optimized over the past three decades. Typically, commerical RO membranes can produce drinking water from seawater.

Water and salt transport through RO membrane follows the so-called Solution-Diffusion Model. Particularly, during separation, water and salt molecules first dissolve into RO membrane and subsequently diffuse through the membrane due to concentration gradience. Diffusivity as well as permeability of water and salt molecules in membrane is closely related to its free volume size and free volume size distribution; more specifically, the logarithm of diffusivity is linearly proportional to reciprocal free volume as described by the free volume theory. Therefore, determining free volume is necessary to fundamentally understand and evaluate transport properties of various RO membranes.

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