Fouling propensity in reverse electrodialysis operated with hypersaline brine

Sergio Santoro, Ramato Ashu Tufa, Ahmet Halil Avci, Enrica Fontananova, Gianluca Di Profio, Efrem Curcio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impact of fouling on the performance of Reverse Electrodialysis operated with highly concentrated brine is a poorly investigated area. In this work, the fouling propensity and stability of Ion Exchange Membranes (IEMs), developed by Fujifilm Manufacturing Europe BV (The Netherlands), is investigated under the condition of seawater and brine. The fouling propensity of the IEMs was depicted by the determination of the Gibbs energy barrier of based-on the Classical Nucleation along with the Theoretical modeling of heterogeneous nucleation as a function of electrochemical (contact angle, permittivity, charge density) and morphological (roughness) membrane properties validated by CaCO3 precipitation. Results indicate that Cation Exchange Membranes (CEM) are more susceptible to the scaling due to the reduced energy barrier of heterogeneous nucleation. FTIR-ATR analysis on six months-aged membranes samples indicated a partial modification in the chemical structure of Anion Exchange Membranes (AEM) induced by the organic fouling associated with humic substances. The tensile tests demonstrated substantial mechanical stability of IEMs. Lab-scale RED tests operated with artificial brine over 30 days showed a significant increase in pressure drop through feed channels due to significant colloidal fouling along with a 23% reduction of maximum gross power density with consequent decrease of net power density.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120563
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug 1
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Engineering

Free keywords

  • Brine
  • Fouling
  • Ion exchange membranes
  • Reverse electrodialysis
  • Salinity gradient power


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