394219 Reverse Electrodialysis: Sustainable Energy from Hydraulic Fracturing Water Recycle

Monday, November 17, 2014: 8:30 AM
M109 (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
Hailey Dunsworth, Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

Due to the growing limitations in dependence on fossil fuels, attention has been turned towards searching for alternative means for harvesting energy. One emerging source is energy produced from natural salinity-gradients between freshwater and seawater. Two different processes used to accomplish this are pressure-retarded osmosis and reverse electrodialysis. Significant amounts of research are currently under way regarding pressure-retarded osmosis, however very few studies have been conducted on reverse electrodialysis due to heavy resistance in the diluate chamber of a reverse electrodialysis cell. The focus of this research is to reduce this resistance by using wafers and ion-exchange beads in order to maximize net power gain. Surrogate brackish/saltwater feed streams were used to measure overall power density.

By reducing resistance to levels previously deemed impossible, we are exploring the fundamental limits of separation technology.  This research proposes an innovative resolution to high resistance levels through the use of ion exchange wafers to promote ionic movement.  Here we show that such wafers have a great impact on the reverse electrodialysis process, and succeeded in achieving a sizeable gain in power density. 

                  Traditional applications include harnessing energy from areas where freshwater bodies meet saltwater, as in an estuary.  The future of reverse electrodialysis, however, lies in fracking. Produced water from a fracking well site in Oklahoma was used for power density calculations under realistic conditions. Preliminary results show that our system is capable of producing power densities of up to 10W/m2, which are five times higher than the current state-of-the-art.  Environmental concerns will be all but eliminated if fracking can evolve to be a sort of cyclic process, where brackish fracking water is converted to energy to, in turn, power the overall operation. This poster presentation will model the power increase of electrode ionization and comment on future potential for improvement, especially in the realm of hydraulic fracturing applications.

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