Membrane capacitive deionization

P.M. Biesheuvel, A. van der Wal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

328 Citations (Scopus)


Membrane capacitive deionization (MCDI) is an ion-removal process based on applying an electrical potential difference across an aqueous solution which flows in between oppositely placed porous electrodes, in front of which ion-exchange membranes are positioned. Due to the applied potential, ions are adsorbed in the electrodes and a product stream with a reduced salt concentration is obtained. Including the membranes in the process has two advantages: first, they block co-ions from leaving the electrodes, thereby increasing the salt removal efficiency of the process, and second, when during ion release a reversed voltage is used, counterions can be more fully flushed from the electrode region, thereby increasing the driving force for ion removal in the next cycle. Here we present pilot-plant experimental data for salt removal in MCDI as function of inlet ionic strength and flow rate. In the subsequent stage of ion release the flow rate is temporarily reduced to zero and the voltage sign reversed. This “stop-flow” operation mode results in a small and concentrated product stream. We present a theoretical process model for MCDI which describes the time-dependent electric current and effluent ion concentration, both during the deionization stage and during the subsequent stage of ion release. The process model describes the MCDI cell as a number of stirred volumes placed in-series, and includes the transport resistance of the ion-exchange membrane and of the stagnant diffusion layer in front of the membrane. Ion storage in the electrodes is described according to the equilibrium Gouy–Chapman–Stern model for the electrostatic double layer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-262
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • ion-exchange membranes
  • nanostructured carbon aerogel
  • water dissociation
  • aqueous-solution
  • electrodes
  • desalination
  • transport
  • voltage
  • model
  • electrosorption

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