11. Membrane Distillation

  1. Shri Ramaswamy2,
  2. Hua-Jiang Huang2 and
  3. Bandaru V. Ramarao3
  1. M. A. Izquierdo-Gil

Published Online: 4 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118493441.ch11

Separation and Purification Technologies in Biorefineries

Separation and Purification Technologies in Biorefineries

How to Cite

Izquierdo-Gil, M. A. (2013) Membrane Distillation, in Separation and Purification Technologies in Biorefineries (eds S. Ramaswamy, H.-J. Huang and B. V. Ramarao), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118493441.ch11

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

  2. 3

    Department of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering, Empire State Paper Research Institute, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York, USA

Author Information

  1. Department of Applied Physics I, Faculty of Physics, University Complutense of Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 11 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470977965

Online ISBN: 9781118493441



  • air gap membrane distillation (AGMD);
  • biorefineries;
  • direct-contact membrane distillation (DCMD);
  • separation process;
  • sweeping gas membrane distillation (SGMD);
  • vacuum membrane distillation (VMD)


Membrane distillation (MD) is a relatively new process that is being investigated worldwide as a low-cost, energy-saving alternative to conventional separation processes such as distillation and reverse osmosis (RO). There are four different configurations for MD processes, depending on the way in which the partial pressure gradient in the vapour phase is established: direct-contact membrane distillation (DCMD), air gap membrane distillation (AGMD), sweeping gas membrane distillation (SGMD), and vacuum membrane distillation (VMD). Industrial applications of MD may be classified into four main groups pure water production; waste water treatment; food industry; and concentration of organic and biological solutions. The basic separation process principle of membrane distillation is a combined, simultaneous heat and mass transfer mechanisms. A MD module design for a particular separation process is a trade-off of between a number of factors, such as cost, membrane performance-including thermal stability, selectivity, and thermal conductivity.