Reverse electrodialysis (RED) technology represents a promising electro-membrane process for renewable energy harvesting from aqueous streams with different salinity. However, the performance of the key components of the system, that is, the ion exchange membranes, is limited by both the presence of multivalent ions and fouling phenomena, thus leading to a reduced generated net power density. In this context, the behavior of anion exchange membranes (AEMs) in RED systems is more severely affected, due to the undesirable interactions between their positively charged fixed groups and, mostly negatively charged, foulant materials present in natural streams. Therefore, controlling both the monovalent anion permselectivity and the membrane surface hydrophilicity is crucial. In this respect, different surface modification procedures were considered in the literature, to enhance the above-mentioned properties. This review reports and discusses the currently available approaches for surface modifications of AEMs, such as graft polymerization, dip coating, and layer-by-layer, among others, mainly focusing on preparing monovalent permselective AEMs with antifouling characteristics, but also considering hydrophilicity aspects and identifying the most promising modifying agents to be utilized. Thus, the present study aimed at providing new insights for the further design and development of selective, durable, and cost-effective modified AEMs for an enhanced RED process performance, which is indispensable for a practical implementation of this electro-membrane technology at an industrial scale.
- Anion exchange membranes
- Antifouling behavior
- Improved reverse electrodialysis
- Monovalent permselective membranes
- Surface modifications