Study of fouling and scaling in capacitive deionisation by using dissolved organic and inorganic salts
Review articleOpen access

AbstractIn this work, fouling, scaling and cleaning of the capacitive deionisation (CDI) with activated carbon electrodes were systematically investigated for the first time. Electrode fouling caused by dissolved organic matter using sodium salt of humic acid as a model foulant (measured by total organic carbon concentration, TOC) and inorganic salt (NaCl, MgCl2, CaCl2 and FeCl3) in the CDI feed solutions was investigated in a series of controlled fouling experiments. After each CDI experiment, a series of cleaning steps was performed to understand the reversibility of fouling accumulated on the electrode surface by analysing the cleaning solutions. The higher the TOC concentration in the CDI feed solution, the more the reduction of salt removal efficiency, declination in the production rate and energy consumption. Dissolved organic matter is the main cause of electrode fouling, as it blocks the activated carbon pores and reduces their electrosorption capacitance. Ca and Mg have no noticeable effect on the CDI treatment performance. However, Fe seemed to have a greater effect on CDI electrode fouling. Alkaline and acid cleaning solutions were able to restore the recovery of the CDI performance from fouling. Pre-treatment to reduce the dissolved organic matter levels is recommended to achieve sustainable treatment performance.

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