Ecological Aspects of Water Desalination Improving Surface Properties of Reverse Osmosis Membranes

  • Tyler G. Hurd
  • Saman Beyhaghi
  • Michael Nosonovsky
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


The lack of fresh clean water is an economical and ecological problem which affects half of humanity. More than 97.5% of all water on the Earth is seawater, so the ability to harvest even a small fraction as fresh water would have a huge impact on water scarcity. Reverse osmosis (RO) is currently the main technique of seawater desalination. During RO, salt water under pressure exceeding the fluids osmotic pressure is forced through a semipermeable membrane. RO requires significant energy inputs and affects the environment due the greenhouse gas emissions (usually associated with an external power source), the output of brine with high salt concentration, and other negative effects. Improving the efficiency and environmental impact of RO plants involves several challenges, some of which are related to surface science and tribology. This involves mimicking water filtration by cell membranes, as well as creating biomimetic antifouling coatings on membranes. We present a comprehensive review of RO and other desalination techniques and suggest how a composite material can improve permeability and antifouling properties of RO membranes.


Contact Angle Reverse Osmosis Superhydrophobic Surface Desalination Plant Reverse Osmosis Membrane 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors acknowledge the support of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Research Growth Initiative (RGI) NSF I/UCRC for Water Equipment and Policy, and UWM Research Foundation Bradley Catalyst grants and the UWM SURF program. Authors are also thankful to Prof. Pradip K. Rohatgi from the UWM Center for Composite materials for filter samples.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tyler G. Hurd
    • 1
  • Saman Beyhaghi
    • 1
  • Michael Nosonovsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied ScienceUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA

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