Enhanced water desalination performance through hierarchically-structured ceramic membranes

Tong Liu, Libin Lei, Jianqiang Gu, Yao Wang*, Louis Winnubst, Chusheng Chen, Chunsong Ye, Fanglin Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Developments of membrane water desalination are impeded by low water vapor flux across the membrane. We present an innovative membrane design to significantly enhance the water vapor flux. A bilayer zirconia-based membrane with a thick hierarchically-structured support and a thin functional layer is prepared using a combined freeze drying tape casting and screen printing method. The hierarchically-structured YSZ support has a porosity of 42.6%, pores of 4.5 μm or larger, and a relatively low tortuosity of 1.58 along the thickness direction. The bilayer membrane is then converted from naturally hydrophilic to hydrophobic via grafting with a fluoroalkylsilane. A water flux of 28.7 Lm−2 h−1 and a salt rejection of 99.5% are achieved by exposing the functional layer to 80 °C salt water of 2 wt.% NaCl and the support layer to 20 °C distilled water. These results are the best performing ones for ceramic membranes in direct contact membrane distillation operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2431-2438
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the European Ceramic Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Freeze drying tape casting
  • Hierarchical oriented pores
  • Membrane distillation
  • Seawater desalination
  • X-ray computed tomography


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