Membrane distillation of industrial cooling tower blowdown water
Authors: N.E. Koeman-Stein, R.J.M. Creusen, M. Zijlstra, C.K. Groot, W.B.P. van den Broek
Summary: The potential of membrane distillation for desalination of cooling tower blowdown water (CTBD) is investigated. Technical feasibility is tested on laboratory and pilot scale using real cooling tower blowdown water from Dow Benelux in Terneuzen (Netherlands). Two types of membranes, polytetrafluorethylene and polyethylene showed good performance regarding distillate quality and fouling behavior. Concentrating CTBD by a factor 4.5 while maintaining a flux of around 2 l/m2*h was possible with a water recovery of 78% available for reuse. Higher concentration factors lead to severe decrease in flux which was caused by scaling. Membrane distillation could use the thermal energy that would otherwise be discharged of in a cooling tower and function as a heat exchanger. This reduces the need for cooling capacity and could lead to a total reduction of 37% water intake for make-up water, as well as reduced energy and chemicals demands and greenhouse gas emissions.