I am born in Iran, on the west side of the country, very close to mountains where in the winter we have snow and it can get as cold as -10 degree Celsius. I have a B.Sc. in chemical engineering from Sharif university of technology, Tehran (2010-2014) and a M.Sc. in Petroleum engineering from TU Delft (2014-2016). After a year of working as a project manager at Tebodin B.V., I am now a PhD candidate at TU Delft together with Wetsus water research center.
Membrane based desalination, particularly reverse osmosis (RO), is currently the most extended technology for desalination. While RO has a lower CO2 emission than thermal desalination methods, still its estimated carbon footprint (0.4–6.7 kg/m3 CO2eq for seawater RO) means that decreasing CO2 footprint in RO will be necessary if other industries decarbonize and RO continues to grow in application. A strategy to reduce the CO2 footprint of RO is to remove and utilize the available CO2 and carbonates that are dissolved in seawater, prior to applying RO. As the carbonate in seawater is in equilibrium with the atmosphere, this CO2 removal is effectively a negative emission technology, which counteracts the CO2 emitted due to energy requirements in the RO process. Additionally, such decarbonization can reduce or even eliminate the scaling risk, which is still considered as one of the major challenges for an efficient operation in membrane based technologies. Sustainable decarbonization of seawater can be done using Bipolar Membrane Electrodialysis (BPMED) as a pre-treatment to RO.
Bipolar membranes are special type of layered ion exchange membranes. The bipolar membrane consist of two polymer layers carrying fixed charges; a positively charged anion exchange membrane and a negatively charged cation exchange membrane. Ideally, no ion transfer should happen from one side of the bipolar membrane to the other, since the desired function in the bipolar membrane is the water splitting into hydroxide ions and protons upon application of an electric force. In other words, Acid/ base production.
BPMED can decarbonize the seawater by removing CO2 in gaseous form on the acidic side of the bipolar membrane (Acid route) or as solid CaCO3 precipitate on the alkaline side (Base route). Consequently, a synchronized higher water recovery and a lower carbon footprint can be achieved in RO.
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