Modeling of air-gap membrane distillation process: A theoretical and experimental study

A. S. Alsaadi, N. Ghaffour, J. D. Li, S. Gray, Lijo Francis, H. Maab, G. L. Amy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Citations (Scopus)


A one dimensional (1-D) air gap membrane distillation (AGMD) model for flat sheet type modules has been developed. This model is based on mathematical equations that describe the heat and mass transfer mechanisms of a single-stage AGMD process. It can simulate AGMD modules in both co-current and counter-current flow regimes. The theoretical model was validated using AGMD experimental data obtained under different operating conditions and parameters. The predicted water vapor flux was compared to the flux measured at five different feed water temperatures, two different feed water salinities, three different air gap widths and two MD membranes with different average pore sizes. This comparison showed that the model flux predictions are strongly correlated with the experimental data, with model predictions being within +10% of the experimentally determined values. The model was then used to study and analyze the parameters that have significant effect on scaling-up the AGMD process such as the effect of increasing the membrane length, and feed and coolant flow rates. The model was also used to analyze the maximum thermal efficiency of the AGMD process by tracing changes in water production rate and the heat input to the process along the membrane length. This was used to understand the gain in both process production and thermal efficiency for different membrane surface areas and the resultant increases in process capital and water unit cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-65
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Air-gap membrane distillation (AGMD)
  • Co-current and counter-current flow regimes
  • Modeling
  • Scale-up
  • Thermal efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Filtration and Separation

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