Temperature and Velocity Effects on Mass and Momentum Transport in Spacer-Filled Channels for Reverse Electrodialysis: A Numerical Study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionEnergies. 2018, 11 (8), . 10.3390/en11082028
Concentration polarization is one of the main challenges of membrane-based processes such as power generation by reverse electrodialysis. Spacers in the compartments can enhance mass transfer by reducing concentration polarization. Active spacers increase the available membrane surface area, thus avoiding the shadow effect introduced by inactive spacers. Optimizing the spacer-filled channels is crucial for improving mass transfer while maintaining reasonable pressure losses. The main objective of this work was to develop a numerical model based upon the Navier–Stokes and Nernst–Planck equations in OpenFOAM, for detailed investigation of mass transfer efficiency and pressure drop. The model is utilized in different spacer-filled geometries for varying Reynolds numbers, spacer conductivity and fluid temperature. Triangular corrugations are found to be the optimum geometry, particularly at low flow velocities. Cylindrical corrugations are better at high flow velocities due to lower pressure drop. Enhanced mass transfer and lower pressure drop by elevating temperature is demonstrated.