The main technology for water desalination is reverse osmosis (RO), in which a pressurized feed water is forced through a semi-permeable membrane and requires significant energy investment.
The Desalination Fuel Cell (DFC) is a potentially disruptive technology for seawater desalination. The system is similar to a fuel cell, in that when chemical reactants are added to the system, energy is produced through a chemical-to-electrical energy conversion.
The device differs from the standard fuel cell in that two ion exchange membranes are used, and a feed water channel is created between them. The middle channel is desalinated during fuel cell operation, allowing for both desalted water and energy to be outputted from the cell without requiring external electrical supply to desalinate.
- This custom-built prototype system demonstrated the near complete desalination of feedwater while simultaneously generating up to 23.5 kWh of electricity per m3 of desalted water
- DFC can recover up to 85% of the input energy as electricity without needing a recovery device compared to the common reverse osmosis technology
Applications and Opportunities
- A disruptive technology towards water desalination markets, Ideal for off-grid locations
- The technology uses cost-effective chemistry