Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) assisted analysis of profiled membranes performance in reverse electrodialysis

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Implementation of reverse electrodialysis (RED) is economically limited by the relatively high ion-exchange membranes price. Additionally, the shadow effect of non-conductive spacers reduces the membrane area available for counter-ion transport and increases the stack electric resistance. A promising alternative could be utilization of profiled membranes, since the reliefs formed on their surface keeps the membranes separated and provides channels for solutions flow. Herein, we have simulated, through computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools, fluid behavior in channels formed by various profiled membranes. The highest net power density values were obtained for corrugations shape and arrangement in a form of chevrons due to the increase of the available membrane area and an excellent balance between enhancement of mass transfer and the increase of the pressure drop in the channel. When properly designed, corrugated membranes may offer a better performance even compared to the case of conductive spacers. The proposed membrane corrugation design in not limited to the RED application, and could be also extended to other electromembrane processes, such as electrodialysis and Donnan dialysis, in which high ionic mass transport rates are desirable at as low as possible energy costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-190
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016


  • Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • Net power density
  • Profiled membranes
  • Reverse electrodialysis (RED)
  • Salinity gradient energy

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