Improving the performance of polymer-flooding produced water electrodialysis through the application of pulsed electric field

P.A. Sosa-Fernandez*, J.W. Post, M.S. Ramdlan, F.A.M. Leermakers, H. Bruning, H.H.M. Rijnaarts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Concentration polarization and fouling hamper the desalination of polymer-flooding produced water (PFPW) via electrodialysis (ED). This water is an abundant by-product from the oil and gas industry. A common technique to mitigate both problems is the application of pulsed electric field (PEF), which consists in supplying a constant current during a short time (pulse) followed by a time without current (pause). Accordingly, this work evaluated the application of PEF during the ED of PFPW to improve the process performance and to reduce fouling incidences. The experimental work consisted in performing ED batch runs in a laboratory-scale stack containing commercial ion exchange membranes. Synthetic PFPW was desalinated under different operating regimes until a fixed number of charges were passed. After each experiment, a membrane pair was recovered from the stack and analyzed through diverse techniques. The application of PEF improved the ED performance in terms of demineralization percentage and energy consumption, the latter having reductions of 36% compared to the continuous mode. In general, the shorter the pulses, the higher the demineralization rate and the lower the energy consumption. Regarding the application of different pause lengths, longer pauses yielded lower energy consumptions, but also lower demineralization. Amorphous precipitates composed of polymer and calcium fouled most on the anion and cation exchange membranes, independently of the applied current regime, but in a moderate amount. Finally, the present study relates the observed effects of PEF application to the electrophoresis and diffusion of HPAM, and shows that PEF is a sound option to enhance the desalination of PFPW.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114424
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2020


  • Concentration polarization
  • Electrodialysis
  • Membrane fouling
  • Partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide
  • Polymer-flooding produced water
  • Pulsed electric field


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