Membrane-Based Technologies at the Water-Energy Nexus

Menachem Elimelech
Roberto Goizueta Professor
Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Yale University

Membrane-based processes play a critical role in technologies for desalination and water purification, as well as emerging technologies for sustainable power generation from natural salinity gradients and waste heat. This presentation will discuss two membrane processes, based on “engineered osmosis”, which play an important role at the water-energy nexus.

One of these technologies is reverse osmosis, which is being used extensively worldwide for seawater desalination. The energy efficiency and the state of the technology of seawater reverse osmosis desalination will be critically discussed. Another emerging membrane-based process for generating sustainable power from salinity gradients in pressure retarded osmosis. Performance
limitations of pressure retarded osmosis and possible solutions will be discussed.

In addition to capturing energy from natural salinity gradients, pressure retarded osmosis combined with membrane distillation can operate as an osmotic heat engine to convert low-grade heat to sustainable power through the generation of artificially created salinity gradients using synthetic solutions.

Refreshments will be served before the seminar.
Please contact Tony Pulsone at pulsone@mit.edu with any questions.