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Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Oct 15;47(20):11866-72. doi: 10.1021/es4021603. Epub 2013 Sep 24.

Optimizing the energy efficiency of capacitive deionization reactors working under real-world conditions.

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  • 1Electrochemical Processes Unit, IMDEA Energy Institute , Ave. Ramón de la Sagra 3, Mostoles Technology Park E28935, Mostoles, Spain.

Abstract

Capacitive deionization (CDI) is a rapidly emerging desalination technology that promises to deliver clean water while storing energy in the electrical double layer (EDL) near a charged surface in a capacitive format. Whereas most research in this subject area has been devoted to using CDI for removing salts, little attention has been paid to the energy storage aspect of the technology. However, it is energy storage that would allow this technology to compete with other desalination processes if this energy could be stored and reused efficiently. This requires that the operational aspects of CDI be optimized with respect to energy used both during the removal of ions as well as during the regeneration cycle. This translates into the fact that currents applied during deionization (charging the EDL) will be different from those used in regeneration (discharge). This paper provides a mechanistic analysis of CDI in terms of energy consumption and energy efficiencies during the charging and discharging of the system under several scenarios. In a previous study, we proposed an operational buffer mode in which an effective separation of deionization and regeneration steps would allow one to better define the energy balance of this CDI process. This paper reports on using this concept, for optimizing energy efficiency, as well as to improve upon the electro-adsorption of ions and system lifetime. Results obtained indicate that real-world operational modes of running CDI systems promote the development of new and unexpected behavior not previously found, mainly associated with the inhomogeneous distribution of ions across the structure of the electrodes.

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