Membrane Capacitive Deionization (MCDI) is an energy efficient, electrochemical desalination technology, in which ions are removed from a salty stream upon applying a constant voltage or current. The ions are stored in carbon electrodes and then released back into the stream by reversing the polarity. In this work, we aimed to assess the feasibility of using a brine stream to regenerate the MCDI unit in order to improve water recovery. We further aimed to determine the optimum residence time in the MCDI unit. To achieve these objectives, we first enhanced the ion transport model previously developed for MCDI by independently measuring the counter-ion and co-ion diffusion coefficients in the ion-exchange membranes. These experiments allowed for an asymmetric model of the MCDI unit where the voltage drop across the cation exchange membrane was greater than that across the anion exchange membrane. Using this revised model, we found that in batch operation, a brine to feed water concentration ratio of around two was optimum. In continuous operation, over 40% enhancement in water recovery could be achieved when the regeneration brine was partially recycled, but water productivity dropped. We further showed that the maximum desalination capacity did not increase beyond a critical residence time in the MCDI cell, while the water recovery decreased.
- Brine regeneration
- Membrane capacitive deionization
- Water recovery