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

22 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


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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