Abstract

Capacitive electrodialysis (CED) is an emerging and promising desalination technology for decentralized drinking water production. Brackish water, often used as a drinking water source, may contain organic micropollutants (OMPs), thus raising environmental and health concerns. This study investigated the transport of OMPs in a fully-functional decentralized CED system for drinking water production under realistic operational conditions. Eighteen environmentally-relevant OMPs (20µgL-1) with different physicochemical properties (charge, size, hydrophobicity) were selected and added to the feed water. The removal of OMPs was significantly lower than that of salts (∼94%), mainly due to their lower electrical mobility and higher steric hindrance. The removal of negatively-charged OMPs reached 50% and was generally higher than that of positively-charged OMPs (31%), whereas non-charged OMPs were barely transported. Marginal adsorption of OMPs was found under moderate water recovery (50%), in contrast to significant adsorption of charged OMPs under high water recovery (80%). The five-month operation demonstrated that the CED system could reliably produce water with low salt ions and TOC concentrations, meeting the respective WHO requirements. The specific energy consumption of the CED stack under 80% water recovery was 0.54kWhm-3, which is competitive to state-of-the-art RO, ED, and emerging MCDI in brackish water desalination. Under this condition, the total OPEX was 2.43€m-3, of which the cost of membrane replacement contributed significantly. Although the CED system proved to be a robust, highly adaptive, and fully automated technology for decentralized drinking water production, it was not highly efficient in removing OMPs, especially non-charged OMPs.

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