Treatment of RO brine from CSG produced water by spiral-wound air gap membrane distillation — A pilot study
Authors: Hung C. Duong, Allan R. Chivas, Bart Nelemans, Mikel Duke, Stephen Gray, Tzahi Y. Cath, Long D. Nghiem
Summary: Brine management is a major bottleneck for coal seam gas (CSG) production in Australia. This study investigated the concentration of CSG reverse osmosis (RO) brine using a pilot membrane distillation (MD). The system was equipped with a novel spiral-wound air gap membrane distillation (AGMD) module. By operating the pilot MD system at low feed temperature and a small temperature gradient, a stable distillate production rate could be maintained. The resulting low permeate flux can be offset by a high packing density of the spiral-wound membrane module. Here, using a module with diameter, height, and total membrane surface area of 0.4 m, 0.5 m, and 7.2 m2, respectively, the pilot MD system sustainably achieved 80% water recovery and produced 10 L/h of distillate from CSG RO brine. Overall, 95% water recovery could be obtained from CSG produced water for beneficial uses by a combination of RO and AGMD without any observable membrane scaling. A preliminary thermal energy demand analysis suggests that if installed in New South Wales (Australia), 1 ha of flat-plate solar thermal collector arrays could provide sufficient thermal energy to treat 472 m3/day (2970 bbl/day) of CSG produced water using the proposed RO/AGMD treatment train.