Microbial desalination cell with sulfonated sodium (poly(ether ether ketone) as cation exchange membranes for enhancing power generation and salt reduction

Francisco Lopez Moruno, Juan E. Rubio, Plamen Atanassov, José M. Cerrato, Christopher G. Arges, Carlo Santoro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Microbial desalination cell (MDC) is a bioelectrochemical system capable of oxidizing organics, generating electricity, while reducing the salinity content of brine streams. As it is designed, anion and cation exchange membranes play an important role on the selective removal of ions from the desalination chamber. In this work, sulfonated sodium (Na+) poly(ether ether ketone) (SPEEK) cation exchange membranes (CEM) were tested in combination with quaternary ammonium chloride poly(2,6-dimethyl 1,4-phenylene oxide) (QAPPO) anion exchange membrane (AEM). Non-patterned and patterned (varying topographical features) CEMs were investigated and assessed in this work. The results were contrasted against a commercially available CEM. This work used real seawater from the Pacific Ocean in the desalination chamber. The results displayed a high desalination rate and power generation for all the membranes, with a maximum of 78.6 ± 2.0% in salinity reduction and 235 ± 7 mW m−2 in power generation for the MDCs with the SPEEK CEM. Desalination rate and power generation achieved are higher with synthesized SPEEK membranes when compared with an available commercial CEM. An optimized combination of these types of membranes substantially improves the performances of MDC, making the system more suitable for real applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-184
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrochemistry

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