Combined electrocoagulation-microfiltration-membrane distillation for treatment of hydraulic fracturing produced water

Mahmood Jebur, Yu Hsuan Chiao, Kupaaikekaiao Thomas, Tanmoy Patra, Yuhe Cao, Kyunghoan Lee, Nicholas Gleason, Xianghong Qian, Yunxia Hu, Mahdi Malmali, S. Ranil Wickramasinghe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Hydraulic fracturing flowback and produced water is a highly impaired wastewater containing dissolved salts polar and non-polar organic compounds, oil and surfactants. Here a combined electrocoagulation - microfiltration – membrane distillation process has been used to treat this wastewater. Electrocoagulation followed by microfiltration was used to pretreat the wastewater prior membrane distillation. The initial total dissolved solids (TDS) concentration was extremely high being 245,300 mg L−1. After electrocoagulation, the total organic carbon (TOC) was reduced from 120 mg L−1 to 64 mg L−1. Tangential flow microfiltration using a 0.1 μm pore size polyethersulfone membrane was used to separate the particulate matter after electrocoagulation and to further reduce the TOC to 44 mg L−1. Membrane distillation was used to desalinate the pretreated produced water resulting in a high quality treated water (TDS of 56 mg L−1 and TOC 1 mg L−1). Three membranes with very different surface morphology were used: commercially available polyvinylidene fluoride, electrospun poly(vinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene) nanofibers and multiwalled carbon nanotube coated polytetrafluoroethylene. The TDS in the retentate increased to over 350,000 mg L−1. During membrane distillation, the temperature of the feed tank was maintained at 36 °C while the feed entered the module at 60 °C in order to minimize scaling on the membrane. The surface properties of an ideal membrane that is resistant to wetting and provides high flux is likely to depend on the TDS and properties of the wastewater.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114886
StatePublished - Mar 15 2021


  • Carbon nanotube
  • Direct contact membrane distillation
  • Electrospun membrane
  • Fouling
  • Wastewater


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