Abstract

Flow-electrode capacitive deionization (FCDI) is an attractive variant of CDI with distinct advantages over fixed electrode CDI including the capability for seawater desalination, high flow efficiency and easy management of the electrodes. Challenges exist however in increasing treatment capacity with this attempted here through use of a membrane stack configuration. By comparison of standardised metrics (in particular, average salt removal rate (ASRR), energy normalized removed salt (ENRS) and productivity), results show that that an FCDI system with two pairs of ion exchange membranes had the highest efficiency in desalting a brackish influent (1000 mg L−1) to potable levels (∼150 mg L−1) at higher ASRR and ENRS. Further increase in the number of membrane pairs resulted in a decrease in current efficiency, likely as a result of the dominance of electrodialysis. Results of this study provide proof of concept that (semi-)continuous desalination can be achieved in FCDI at high energy efficiency (13.8%–20.2%) and productivity (> 100 L m−2 h−1) and, importantly, provide insight into possible approaches to scaling up FCDI such that energy-efficient water desalination can be achieved.

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