Kenneth Gethard, of Fairfield, a doctoral student in environmental science at NJIT, received the second-prize silver medal for his graduate project “Desalinations Using Carbon Nanotube Enhanced Membrane Distillation.” His advisor was Somenath Mitra. The award was presented at the annual NJIT Dana Knox Student Research Showcase held April 14, 2010.
“Carbon nanotube enhanced membrane distillation is a low energy and environmentally benign process that can be used to produce high-quality drinking water from seawater and other high saline content waters,” he said. “With further commercial development, it has the potential to be a means to help alleviate the world's growing water shortage problems.”
This work detailed the results of membrane distillation desalination experiments in which carbon nanotubes were incorporated into the membrane’s pores. The carbon nanotubes served as a means to increase water vapor transport capacity across the membrane. Carbon nanotube enhanced membranes had up to 15 times higher salt reduction and 86 percent more flux than untreated membranes.
Test results showed that carbon nanotube enhanced membrane distillation is a useful method to improve desalination efficiency. Due to the low energy requirements associated with it, carbon nanotube enhanced membrane distillation provides advantages over traditional desalination processes such as thermal distillation, ion-exchange and reverse osmosis.