Experimental Investigation of a Plate–Frame Water Gap Membrane Distillation System for Seawater Desalination

Dahiru U. Lawal*, Ismail Abdulazeez, Qusay F. Alsalhy, Jamilu Usman, Sani I. Abba, Ibrahim B. Mansir, Ravishankar Sathyamurthy, Noel Jacob Kaleekkal, Binash Imteyaz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study presented a detailed investigation into the performance of a plate–frame water gap membrane distillation (WGMD) system for the desalination of untreated real seawater. One approach to improving the performance of WGMD is through the proper selection of cooling plate material, which plays a vital role in enhancing the gap vapor condensation process. Hence, the influence of different cooling plate materials was examined and discussed. Furthermore, two different hydrophobic micro-porous polymeric membranes of similar mean pore sizes were utilized in the study. The influence of key operating parameters, including the feed water temperature and flow rate, was examined against the system vapor flux and gained output ratio (GOR). In addition, the used membranes were characterized by means of different techniques in terms of surface morphology, liquid entry pressure, water contact angle, pore size distribution, and porosity. Findings revealed that, at all conditions, the PTFE membrane exhibits superior vapor flux and energy efficiency (GOR), with 9.36% to 14.36% higher flux at a 0.6 to 1.2 L/min feed flow rate when compared to the PVDF membrane. The copper plate, which has the highest thermal conductivity, attained the highest vapor flux, while the acrylic plate, which has an extra-low thermal conductivity, recorded the lowest vapor flux. The increasing order of GOR values for different cooling plates is acrylic < HDPE < copper < aluminum < brass < stainless steel. Results also indicated that increasing the feed temperature increases the vapor flux almost exponentially to a maximum flux value of 30.36 kg/m2hr. The system GOR also improves in a decreasing pattern to a maximum value of 0.4049. Moreover, a long-term test showed that the PTFE membrane, which exhibits superior hydrophobicity, registered better salt rejection stability. The use of copper as a cooling plate material for better system performance is recommended, while cooling plate materials with very low thermal conductivities, such as a low thermally conducting polymer, are discouraged.

Original languageEnglish
Article number804
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • experiment
  • gained output ratio
  • hydrophobic
  • membrane distillation
  • water access
  • water poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Filtration and Separation


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