Desalination, Vol.434, 121-160, 2018
Electrodialysis for water desalination: A critical assessment of recent developments on process fundamentals, models and applications
The need for unconventional sources of fresh water is pushing a fast development of desalination technologies, which proved to be able to face and solve the problem of water scarcity in many dry areas of the planet. Membrane desalination technologies are nowadays leading the market and, among these, electrodialysis (ED) plays an important role, especially for brackish water desalination, thanks to its robustness, extreme flexibility and broad range of applications. In fact, many ED-related processes have been presented, based on the use of Ion Exchange Membranes (IEMs), which are significantly boosting the development of ED-related technologies. This paper presents the fundamentals of the ED process and its main developments. An important outlook is given to operational aspects, hydrodynamics and mass transport phenomena, with an extensive review of literature studies focusing on theoretical or experimental characterization of the complex phenomena occurring in electromembrane processes and of proposed strategies for process performance enhancement. An overview of process modelling tools is provided, pointing out capabilities and limitations of the different approaches and their possible application to optimisation analysis and perspective developments of ED technology. Finally, the most recent applications of ED-related processes are presented, highlighting limitations and potentialities in the water and energy industry.