Thermo-osmosis in membrane systems: a review
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics. 2017, 42 (3), 217-236. 10.1515/jnet-2016-0088
We give a first review of experimental results for a phenomenon little explored in the literature, namely thermal osmosis or thermo-osmosis. Such systems are now getting increased attention because of their ability to use waste heat for separation purposes. We show that this volume transport of a solution or a pure liquid caused by a temperature difference across a membrane can be understood as a property of the membrane system, i. e. the membrane with its adjacent solutions. We present experimental values found in the literature of thermo-osmotic coefficients of neutral and hydrophobic as well as charged and hydrophilic membranes, with water and other permeant fluids as well as electrolyte solutions. We propose that the coefficient can be qualitatively explained by a formula that contains the entropy of adsorption of permeant into the membrane, the hydraulic permeability, and a factor that depends on the interface resistance to heat transfer. A variation in the entropy of adsorption with hydrophobic/hydrophilic membranes and structure breaking/structure making cations could then explain the sign of the permeant flux. Systematic experiments in the field are lacking and we propose an experimental program to mend this situation.