Effect of Divalent Cations on RED Performance and Cation Exchange Membrane Selection to Enhance Power Densities

Reverse electrodialysis (RED) is a membrane-based renewable energy technology that can harvest energy from salinity gradients. The anticipated feed streams are natural river and seawater, both of which contain not only monovalent ions but also divalent ions. However, RED using feed streams containing divalent ions experiences lower power densities because of both uphill transport and increased membrane resistance. In this study, we investigate the effects of divalent cations (Mg<sup>2+</sup> and Ca<sup>2+</sup>) on RED and demonstrate the mitigation of those effects using both novel and existing commercial cation exchange membranes (CEMs). Monovalent-selective Neosepta CMS is known to block divalent cations transport and can therefore mitigate reductions in stack voltage. The new multivalent-permeable Fuji T1 is able to transport divalent cations without a major increase in resistance. Both strategies significantly improve power densities compared to standard-grade CEMs when performing RED using streams containing divalent cations.