Investigation of Reverse ElectroDialysis Units by Multi-Physical Modelling

L. Gurreri [1], F. Santoro [1], G. Battaglia [1], A. Cipollina [1], A. Tamburini [1], G. Micale [1], M. Ciofalo [1],
[1] Dipartimento di Ingegneria Chimica, Gestionale, Informatica, Meccanica (DICGIM), Università degli Studi di Palermo (UNIPA), Palermo, Italy
Published in 2016

Salinity gradient represents an interesting renewable energy source. Reverse ElectroDialysis (RED) is an ion exchange membrane-based process that convert directly the salinity gradient energy into electric current. Thereby, two solutions at different concentrations are fed into two series of alternated channels. As various physical phenomena occur in RED units and affect the process performance, this work presents a novel modeling approach of the RED process using COMSOL Multiphysics® software. Different membrane/channel configurations were investigated, including flat membranes with or without nonconductive spacers, and profiled membranes. In addition, sensitivity analysis of total resistance of cell pair, gross and net power density for the various cell pair configurations was performed. The results indicate that the model is a promising tool for design and optimization of RED units.