Feasibility study of flowback/produced water treatment using direct-contact membrane distillation Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2015 Balaban Desalination Publications. All rights reserved. The feasibility of applying direct-contact membrane distillation (DCMD) for flowback/produced water treatment was comprehensively investigated under different hydrodynamic and thermal conditions with various feedwater compositions. Results from a bench-scale study suggest that DCMD has a great potential to treat synthetic flowback/produced water. Membrane water flux increased with increasing feedwater temperature. At a feedwater temperature of 80°C, TDS of 133 g/L and liquid stream flow rates of 0.8 L/min, DCMD showed a water flux as high as 43 L/m2 h, which is comparable to water fluxes of reverse osmosis (RO) for seawater desalination. In addition, DCMD is capable of treating flowback/produced water with TDS up to 280 g/L, leading to 46–88% reduction of wastewater volume. Oil/grease, suspended solids, and volatile organics in the synthetic flowback/produced water showed minimal effects on DCMD performance; thus, no pretreatment process is necessary in DCMD. The high-quality distillate of DCMD may be used for beneficial reuse or future hydraulic fracking jobs. However, it is not recommended to treat low-TDS flowback/produced water that can be processed by RO. Rather, DCMD has more technical advantages for treating medium- and high-TDS flowback/produced water.

published proceedings

  • Desalination and Water Treatment

author list (cited authors)

  • Rao, G., & Li, Y

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Rao, Guiying||Li, Ying

publication date

  • September 2016