MSE Research Project Database

Bio-carbon flow electrodes for capacitive deionisation of wastewater

Project Leader: Amanda Ellis
Collaborators: Sandra Kentish (Chemical Engineering)
Sponsors: Ohio Soybean Council, US
Primary Contact: Amanda Ellis (
Keywords: desalination; nanoengineered materials; porous media; water quality
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

This project aims to develop an activated porous bio-carbon from inedible plant-based biomass that can be used as carbon slurries in the capacitive deionisation of water. The project objective is to use the activated bio-carbon slurries in flow electrodes which allows for constant and continuous removal of ions from water particularly suitable for large-scale industrial applications. It is expected that the project outcomes would enable the technology to be used in the treatment of brackish water and seawater desalination, wastewater remediation and water softening.

The manufacture of flow electrodes using bio-carbon from waste biomass has not been trialled elsewhere in the world. While this technology offers strong potential for a practical, sustainable and cost-effective solution to fixed capacitive deionisation (CDI) electrodes for the removal of salts from water, certain challenges need to be overcome to develop a viable product. Research is needed to: (1) maintain the interconnected, reticular and tubular structure of the pores within the bio-carbon particles; (2) optimise the particle size and shape for packing, rheological properties (flowability of electrode) and attrition; (3) achieve low ionic and electrical resistance of the flow slurries and be easily regenerated; and (4) complete FCDI modelling and diversity of electrode design.

The specific aims of this project are as follows:

1. Identify/and or model the activation precursors leading to optimal pore formation.

2. Establish the necessary surface modification of bio-carbon and rheology for electrodes.

3. Develop a model to test bio-carbon flow electrodes for capacitive deionisation.

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