Environment-friendly production of power and clean water is one of the major goals of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and can be achieved by emerging electromembrane processes, such as reverse electrodialysis (RED) and membrane capacitive deionisation (MCDI). RED generates electricity from salinity gradient energy sources, while MCDI desalinates (mainly) brackish water. However, fouling, scaling, stack channels clogging and undesired uphill ionic transport can reduce the power output and salt removal efficiency in RED and MCDI, respectively. A practical overview of current problems and challenges of operating and monitoring these processes under real conditions is provided. Appropriate mitigation approaches, which might include feed water pre-treatment, in-situ cleaning strategies and/or development of new antifouling ion-exchange membranes (IEMs) are disclosed. First, a description, analysis and (when possible) normalised comparison of the performance of available RED and MCDI stacks, employing natural saline streams, is presented. Afterwards, it is discussed how fouling formation can be detected, monitored and characterised, which is essential to implement effective pre-treatment and cleaning strategies. Finally, sustainable ways for preparation of appropriate IEMs are selected and presented.
- Ion exchange membranes (IEMs)
- Ionic transport
- Membrane capacitive deionisation (MCDI)
- Reverse electrodialysis (RED)