(633d) Capacitive Deionization of Brackish Waters Using Biomass-Derived Carbons

Authors: 
Vander Wal, R. L. - Presenter, Pennsylvania State University
Rajagopalan, R., Pennsylvania State University
Adu, K., Penn State University - Altoon
Irrigated agriculture water represents the bulk of demand for water in most of the countries suffering from acute water scarcity in the Near East and North Africa, as well as Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa, and large parts of China and India. Greenhouses are emerging solution. Current testing in Mozambique and Sierra Leone has demonstrated significantly reduced water use. Yet even a few gallons per day per greenhouse is challenging because many local water sources are brackish. Capacitive deionization (CDI) is a sustainable, energy efficient, and cost effective technology for removal of low or moderate salinity typical of brackish water as compared to technologies that remove the water instead. Indigenous production of the carbon for the electrodes holds the key to such technology being adopted as a source of irrigation water, simultaneously facilitating the use of such using renewable energy sources. Biochars have recently been explored as electrode materials in CD, and can be easily produced from local plant-based agricultural waste materials.

The goal of this study is thus to identify biomass process conditions to enable the best performance as electrode material in CDI. Studies on CDI so far have been targeted towards achieving the best adsorption capacity, which directs towards the use of highly processed and tailored carbons. This is mostly achieved through chemical activation processes using toxic or corrosive and expensive materials which require deionized water for subsequent washing of the carbon, for achieving better CDI performance. Hence, with the effort directed towards making the process viable for use locally in regions with acute water scarcity, a change in the approach to tailor the electrode material for use in CDI is proposed. This approach is to determine the best possible material utilization by ensuring maximum possible contact between the liquid and the biochar surface (wettability) and by generating the least Ohmic loss thus resulting in highest electrical efficiency.