Desalination, Vol.457, 96-102, 2019
An investigation of the impact of fouling agents in capacitive and membrane capacitive deionisation
The effect of organic fouling on both capacitive deionisation (CDI) and membrane capacitive deionisation (MCDI) was studied using two model foulants, the sodium salt of alginic acid and humic acid. Fouling of the activated carbon electrodes in the CDI cell was significant. The salt adsorption fell to 75% and the charge efficiency to 90% of their initial values after 18 cycles of operation with 0.5 mM CaCl2 and 60 mg L-1 of sodium alginate. Similarly, the salt adsorption fell to 70% and the charge efficiency to 65% of their initial values after 18 cycles of operation with 60 mg L-1 of humic acid. The effect on MCDI was much more limited with these two foulants. The ability to clean the CDI cell with alkali cleaning agents was also investigated. While this cleaning was effective in restoring the salt adsorption, the alkali solution caused erosion of the activated carbon electrode or its PVDF binder, evidenced by an accumulation of carbon within the cleaning solution. Alternative electrode designs or alternative cleaning solutions will be needed if this approach is to be used in systems with similar foulants.