July 23, 2015 – The US Department of Energy awarded Reactive Innovations a multi-year grant to continue the development of its membraneless water desalination system. Access to freshwater is an increasingly important national and international issue. Today, about three billion people around the world have no access to clean drinking water. According to the World Water Council, by 2020, the world will be about 17% short of the fresh water needed to sustain the world population. Moreover, about 1.76 billion people live in areas already facing a high degree of water shortage. To address the challenge of providing clean fresh water to meet the earth’s growing population, new innovative solutions are required to desalinate water. While reverse osmosis is used primarily for desalinating water, high energy costs and membrane fouling continue to plague this technology choice.
Reactive Innovations, LLC has been developing a membraneless water desalination system based on capacitive deionization. This technology choice uses carbon electrodes where an applied potential between them shuttles salt ions in the water toward the electrodes capturing them via adsorption and electrosorption mechanisms. Although capacitive deionization systems date back to the 1960’s, few if any systems are presently being used to desalinate water due to high cost and low performance. By increasing the capacitance of the electrodes and designing improved electrochemical reactors, Reactive has shown that capacitive deionization systems are a promising technology toward desalinating water. Furthermore, by eliminating the membrane separator there is less fouling lengthening the lifetime of the reactor.
Today, an estimated 300 million people in 150 countries already rely on desalinated water. It is expected that by 2016 the global water produced by desalination will exceed 10 trillion gallons per year, a value that is twice the global water production rate from 2008. Reactive’s capacitive deionization system aims to help fill this world-wide need.