Electrospun nanofiber composite membranes for geothermal brine treatment with lithium enrichment via membrane distillation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title




PubMed ID





School of Engineering


Australian Research Council Research Hub for Nutrients in a Circular Economy (NiCE)

UTS President's Scholarship (M.Afsari)

International Research Scholarship (M.Afsari)

Grant Number

ARC Number : IH210100001


Afsari, M., Li, Q., Karbassiyazdi, E., Shon, H. K., Razmjou, A., & Tijing, L. D. (2023). Electrospun nanofiber composite membranes for geothermal brine treatment with lithium enrichment via membrane distillation. Chemosphere, 318, Article 137902.



In this study, a composite electrospun nanofiber membrane was fabricated and used to treat a geothermal brine source with lithium enrichment. An in-situ growth technique was applied to incorporate silica nanoparticles on the surface of nanofibers with (3-Aminopropyl) triethoxysilane as the nucleation site. The fabricated composite nanofiber membrane was heat pressed to enhance the integration of the membrane and its mechanical stability. The fabricated membranes were tested to evaluate their performance in feedwater containing different concentrations of NaCl in the range of 0 – 100 g/L, and the wetting resistivity of the membranes was examined. Finally, the optimal membrane was applied to treat the simulated geothermal brine. The experimental results revealed that the in-situ growth of nanoparticles and coating of flourosilane agent dramatically improved the separation performance of the membrane with high salt rejection, and adequate flux was achieved. The heat-pressed membrane obtained > 99 % salt rejection and flux of 14 – 19 L/m2h at varying feedwater salinity (0 – 100 g/L), and the concentration of the Li during the 24 h test reached > 1100 ppm from the initial 360 ppm. Evaluation of the energy efficiency of the membranes showed that the heat-pressed membrane obtained the optimum energy efficiency in the high concentration of salts. Additionally, the economic analysis indicated that MD could achieve a levelized cost of 2.9 USD/m3 of lithium brine concentration as the heat source is within the feed. Overall, this technology would represent a viable alternative to the solar pond to concentrate Li brine, enabling a compact, efficient, and continuous operating system.



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