Membrane-less and Non-Evaporative Desalination of Hypersaline Brines by Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction

Boo, Chanhee; Winton, Robert Kyongho; Conway, Kelly M.; Yip, Ngai Yin

Hypersaline brines are of growing environmental importance but are technologically under-served by today’s desalination methods. Temperature swing solvent extraction (TSSE) is a radically different desalination technology that is membrane-less and not based on evaporative phase change. TSSE utilizes low-temperature heat and a low-polarity solvent with temperature-dependent water solubility for the selective extraction of water over salt from saline feeds. This study demonstrates TSSE desalination of high-salinity brines simulated by NaCl solutions with three amine solvents: diisopropylamine (DIPA), N-ethylcyclohexylamine (ECHA), and N,N-dimethylcyclohexylamine (DMCHA). We show that TSSE can desalinate brines with salinities as high as ≈234000 ppm total dissolved solids (i.e., 4.0 M NaCl) and achieve salt removals up to 98.4%. Among the solvents, DIPA exhibited the highest water extraction efficiency whereas ECHA and DMCHA produced water with the lowest salt content and solvent residue content, respectively. Lastly, a high water recovery of >50% was demonstrated for TSSE desalination of 1.5 M NaCl brine using DIPA in semibatch experiments with multiple extraction cycles. This study underscores the unique capabilities of TSSE for the desalination of hypersaline brines.


Also Published In

Environmental Science & Technology Letters

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Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Engineering
Published Here
June 21, 2019