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Electrodialysis

A Method to deionize water and to recover the salt

English Version Version Francaise Deutsche Version

Electrodialysis

Electrodialysis is used to transport salt from one solution, the diluate, to another solution
(concentrate) by applying an electric current. This is done in an electrodialysis cell providing all
necessary elements for this process. The conentrate and diluate are separated by the membranes
into the two different process streams (concentrate and diluate), as shown in the figure below. An
electric current is applied, moving the salt over the membranes.

Applications:

 Desalination of salt water


 Stabilisation of wine
 Whey demineralisation
 Pharmaceutical application
 Pickling bath recycling
Unsere ED-
Zellen:
Electrodialysis
Cells
Laboratory size
(up to 1 sqm)
PCCell ED 64
0 02
PCCell ED 64
0 04
PCCell ED 200
Small industrial
size (from 1
sqm- 20 sqm)
PCCell ED
1000
Electrodialysis
Tools and
Equipment
Bench scale ED
pump system
PCCell B-ED
1-2
PCCell B-ED
1-3

Inside an electrodialysis unit, the solutions are separated by alternately arranged anion exchange
membranes, permeable only for anions and cation exchange membranes, permeable only for
cations. By this, the two kinds of compartments are formed, distinguishing in the membrane type
facing the cathode's direction. Applying a current, cations within the diluate (blue compartment
set) move toward the cathode passing the cation exchange membrane facing this side and anions
move towards the anode passing the anion exchange membrane. A further transport of these ions,
now being in a chamber of the concentrate (red compartments), is stopped by the respective next
membrane:
Electrodialysis Stack Construction

The following picture shows an electrodialysis cell:

The cell consists of two electrode-end blocks (PP, grey) and the
membranes stacked between them. The end blocks contain the
in- and outlet adapters and the electrical connections. They are
pressed together by a steel frame.

The general construction principle of an electrodialysis cell is shown in the following sketch:

The membranes are separated by spacers (5) consisting of a fabric in the active area filled with the
electrolyte combined with a sealing around it. The spacer net prevents the membranes from
touching each other. The stacked spacers form with their holes tubes, which are arranged in a way
to build two different channel systems. By this way, the concentrate and diluate circuit is built.
1: Polypropylene end plate 8: Inlet anode cell
2: Electrode 9: Inlet concentrate cell
3: Electrode chamber 10: cation exchange membrane
4: spacer-sealing PVC 11: AAM
5: Spacer fabric 12: Inlet diluate cell
6: Screws 13: Inlet cathode chamber
7: Steel frame

Application of Electrodialysis
Electrodialysis makes it possible to transport ionic compounds from one solution to another.
Therefore, its application covers the transfer of salts and acids from one solution to another. One
common example is sea water desalination.

Not only salt solutions can be desalted and concentrated, but also acids. Examples illustrating this
important application field are given in the recovery of pickling acid (German) and the recycling of
rinsing solution (German) from the hot dip galvanizing (English review )
Different Types of ED Processes
As shown before, the electrodialysis process takes place inside the cell (stack). The solutions are
circulated through the cells from a storage vessel. Each circuit needs a pump, a storage vessel and
piping. By passing the stack one time, the solution is usually not finally treated (desalted from the
initial value to the target value). The solution needs to pass the stack several times.

The simplest case, a batch desalination process, is carried out by circulating the solution through
the stack until the conductivity of the tank solution has its target conductivity. As a result, the
power consumption rises also within the process because the voltage drop over the cell increases.
It is also possible to run an ED process continuously (see Figure above) or in the feed and bleed
mode. Both process schemes are shown below. To decide whether a batch or a continuous process
should be performed, the stack design has to be taken into account. To run in a continuous mode,
the module has to treat the solution in one go. Because you need a certain time and a certain
velocity of solution, this corresponds with a certain process length.
Process Conditions of an Electrodialysis Process
A running ED process means that the ions within the cell are moved over the membrane. This key
process has to be hold up by all the other tools around the membrane: the stack, the feed flow, the
current and the temperature.

One important effect is the polarization of the ions on the membrane surface: Within the solution,
all ions move in the extent of their concentration and mobility. On the membrane's surface, both
mobiltiy and concentration change dramatically. This means that there is a boundary layer of ions
depletion or concentration. An important point is ionic depletion, which has to be prevented
because it leads to a high ohms resistance and to water splitting and it may burn the membranes.

Application Examples

Figure 3 shows an example of a batch desalination (conductivity of diluate against time). The
effect of a single pass desalination at the start and stop time result in a conductivity jump. It
depends on the current, flowing and other factors. The plot shows, that it is - more ore less -
proportional to the current.
The next diagram shows the salt (calculated as NaCl) removal in dependence of the current at
theoretical current efficiency (ce) and at 85% ce. With the PCCell ED 200 you can expect for
sodium chloride ce's in the range between 90 and 95 %. It depends on current denity, concentration
and other factors. The amount is given per cell pair. A 25 cell pair- unit will make 25 times of this.