Water treatment: are membranes the panacea?

Matthew R. Landsman, Rahul Sujanani, Samuel H. Brodfuehrer, Carolyn M. Cooper, Addison G. Darr, R. Justin Davis, Kyungtae Kim, Soyoon Kum, Lauren K. Nalley, Sheik M. Nomaan, Cameron P. Oden, Akhilesh Paspureddi, Kevin K. Reimund, Lewis Stetson Rowles, Seulki Yeo, Desmond F. Lawler, Benny D. Freeman, Lynn E. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Alongside the rising global water demand, continued stress on current water supplies has sparked interest in using nontraditional source waters for energy, agriculture, industry, and domestic needs. Membrane technologies have emerged as one of the most promising approaches to achieve water security, but implementation of membrane processes for increasingly complex waters remains a challenge. The technical feasibility of membrane processes replacing conventional treatment of alternative water supplies (e.g., wastewater, seawater, and produced water) is considered in the context of typical and emerging water quality goals. This review considers the effectiveness of current technologies (both conventional and membrane based), as well as the potential for recent advancements in membrane research to achieve these water quality goals. We envision the future of water treatment to integrate advanced membranes (e.g., mixed-matrix membranes, block copolymers) into smart treatment trains that achieve several goals, including fit-for-purpose water generation, resource recovery, and energy conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-585
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Advanced membrane materials
  • Fit-for-purpose water
  • Integrated processes
  • Produced water
  • Water chemistry
  • Water reuse

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