UCARE: Undergraduate Creative Activities & Research Experiences


Date of this Version


Document Type



Mason, A. 2020. Fabrication of Composite Membranes for Solar-thermal Desalination.Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience Program. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright 2020 by the authors


With rising human populations, the demand for freshwater is an ever-growing problem. One emerging technology to combat this problem is membrane distillation (MD). MD has several advantages for water desalination such as:

•100% rejection of solute (salt, heavy metals, etc.) •Mergeable with other affordable energy sources (solar heat, electric resistance, etc.)

However, at the moment the specific energy consumption (SEC) of MD is very high due to low water production rates and large energy inputs to heat water. In a solar-assisted design for MD, the high cost of solar collectors (~$200/m2) inhibits low cost of water production in comparison to reverse osmosis (RO).[1] Low water production rates for MD designs can be addressed with high-performance membranes and distillation modules. Solar-integrated devices will improve MD efficiencies and make it a marketable technology for desalination processes. This research poster shows great improvement upon current MD efficiencies.