Simulation of Reverse Osmosis Membrane Compaction Using Material Point Method

Sreejith Appukuttan, Hariswaran Sitaraman, Marc Day, Yara Suleiman, Sina Shabazmohamadi, Jishan Wu, Eric Hoek

Research output: NRELPresentation


Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a promising technology to address the impending water-crisis in the upcoming decades. RO at high salinities and high pressures is challenging due to membrane compaction that changes its porosity and permeability. In this study, we present a simulation methodology for membrane structural mechanics to understand pore size distribution and permeability variations under high pressure. We use the material point method (MPM), that solves the solid mechanics equations in a Lagrangian framework. MPM provides many features that make it well-suited for simulating mesoporous membranes. The Lagrangian framework allows for large deformations, easy integration of constitutive models and direct import of complex geometries as particles. The spatial discretization in our MPM solver is achieved using linear or cubic-spline shape functions while the time integration is carried out using the explicit Euler method. A series of images containing detailed pore structures obtained from X-ray tomography is first converted to a collection of material points. Compressive loads are applied to the top layer of the membrane to simulate the application of pressure. The membrane deformation and pore size distribution before and after load application are reported and compared with the experimental measurements. The presentation discusses the numerical methods used, the performance of the solver on high-performance computing machines, and the results of membrane compact in detail.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE23), 26 February - 3 March 2023, Amsterdam, Netherlands

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2C00-85437


  • compaction
  • high pressure reverse osmosis
  • material point method
  • membrane


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