Salinity-gradient energy (SGE) technologies produce carbon-neutral and renewable electricity from salinity differences between seawater and freshwater. Capacitive mixing (CapMix) is a promising class of SGE technologies that captures energy using capacitive or battery electrodes, but CapMix devices have produced relatively low power densities and often require expensive materials. Here, we combined existing CapMix approaches to develop a concentration flow cell that can overcome these limitations. In this system, two identical battery (i.e., faradaic) electrodes composed of copper hexacyanoferrate (CuHCF) were simultaneously exposed to either high (0.513 M) or low (0.017 M) concentration NaCl solutions in channels separated by a filtration membrane. The average power density produced was 411 ± 14 mW m-2 (normalized to membrane area), which was twice as high as previously reported values for CapMix devices. Power production was continuous (i.e., it did not require a charging period and did not vary during each step of a cycle) and was stable for 20 cycles of switching the solutions in each channel. The concentration flow cell only used inexpensive materials and did not require ion-selective membranes or precious metals. The results demonstrate that the concentration flow cell is a promising approach for efficiently harvesting energy from salinity differences.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Chemistry