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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Brackish water desalination using reverse osmosis and capacitive deionization at the water-energy nexus.

  • Author(s): Pan, Shu-Yuan
  • Haddad, Andrew Z
  • Kumar, Arkadeep
  • Wang, Sheng-Wei
  • et al.

In this article, we present a critical review of the reported performance of reverse osmosis (RO) and capacitive deionization (CDI) for brackish water (salinity < 5.0 g/L) desalination from the aspects of engineering, energy, economy and environment. We first illustrate the criteria and the key performance indicators to evaluate the performance of brackish water desalination. We then systematically summarize technological information of RO and CDI, focusing on the effect of key parameters on desalination performance, as well as energy-water efficiency, economic costs and environmental impacts (including carbon footprint). We provide in-depth discussion on the interconnectivity between desalination and energy, and the trade-off between kinetics and energetics for RO and CDI as critical factors for comparison. We also critique the results of technical-economic assessment for RO and CDI plants in the context of large-scale deployment, with focus on lifetime-oriented consideration to total costs, balance between energy efficiency and clean water production, and pretreatment/post-treatment requirements. Finally, we illustrate the challenges and opportunities for future brackish water desalination, including hybridization for energy-efficient brackish water desalination, co-removal of specific components in brackish water, and sustainable brine management with innovative utilization. Our study reveals that both RO and CDI should play important roles in water reclamation and resource recovery from brackish water, especially for inland cities or rural regions.

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