Highly efficient Si3N4 ceramic planar membrane for water desalination process using membrane distillation was prepared by the dual-layer phase inversion tape casting and sintering method. In comparison with typical phase inversion tape casting method, the green tape was formed using Si3N4 slurry on the top and graphite slurry on the bottom. After consuming away the graphite structure, a ceramic membrane consisting of a two-layered structure (skin and finger-like layers) was obtained. The skin layer was relatively tight, and thus could act as a functional layer for separation, while the finger-like layer contained straight open pores with a diameter of 100 μm, acting as a support with low transport resistance. For comparison, typical Si3N4 ceramic membrane was fabricated by phase inversion technique without graphite substrate, resulting in a three-layered structure (skin, finger-like, and sponge layers). After membrane modification from hydrophilic to hydrophobic with polymer derived nanoparticle method, the water desalination performance of the membranes was tested using the sweeping gas membrane distillation (SGMD) with different NaCl feed solutions. With the increase of salt content from 4 to 12 wt%, the water flux decreased slightly while rejection rate maintained over 99.99%. Comparing with typical three-layered Si3N4 membrane, an excellent water flux enhancement of over 83% was resulted and the rejection rate remained over 99.99%.
This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 51372238, U1732115, and 11435012), the CNPC-CAS Strategic Cooperation Research Program (Grant No. 2015A-4812), and demonstration project of key technologies for EOR of carbonate oil and gas fields in Tarim Basin (national major project of China, Grant No. 2016ZX05053).
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