Membrane distillation research & implementation: Lessons from the past five decades

Navya Thomas, Musthafa O. Mavukkandy, Savvina Loutatidou, Hassan A. Arafat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


Research on membrane distillation (MD) experienced a slow growth from the 1970s through 90s but has gained revived interest recently. Despite recent developments, MD still has to overcome several hurdles to pave its path to successful commercialization. This article presents a systematic map review of all research publications available in the ScienceDirect database from 1970 to 2016 focusing on the key aspects of MD publication trends, applications, research topics and the studied membrane materials and configurations. The gathered information was compared with MD implementation trends to assess the alignment of academia and industry towards MD commercialization. A select group of MD experts, both from academia and industry, were then surveyed for their perspective on the future for MD commercialization. While desalination is the most studied MD application so far, brine concentration was unanimously identified as the most likely future application for MD. Industry experts believe topics of practical significance, such as fouling and wetting, deserve more research focus. On the contrary, improving energy efficiency in MD was the top pick by academic experts. The most researched topic, development of novel MD membranes, was at odds with the key research topics identified by the industry and research experts for MD’ growth and development.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)108-127
Number of pages20
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
StatePublished - 2017


  • Commercialization
  • Industry
  • Membrane distillation
  • Practitioner survey
  • Research trends
  • Timeline


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