Due to the increasing demand for clean and potable water stemming from population growth and exacerbated by the scarcity of fresh water resources, more attention has been drawn to different and innovative methods for water desalination. Capacitive deionization (CDI) is a relatively new, low maintenance, and energy efficient technique for desalinating brackish water. In this technique, an electrical field is employed to adsorb ions into a high-porous media. After the saturation of the porous electrodes, their adsorption capacity can be restored through a regeneration process. Various parameters affect the overall performance of CDI. The flow rate at which water is purified in CDI plays an essential role in its ultimate performance. Many studies have shown that desalination percentage decreases as flow rate increases in CDI, since the advection of ions in the flow becomes more dominant than their diffusion toward the electrodes. However, herein, based on a physical model previously developed, we conjecture that for a given amount of time and volume of water, multiple desalination cycles in a high flow rate regime will outperform desalinating in a single cycle at a low flow rate. Moreover, splitting a CDI unit into two sub-units, with the same total length, will lead to higher desalination. Based on these premises, we introduce a new approach aimed at enhancing the overall performance of CDI. An array of CDI cells are sequentially connected to each other with intermediate solutions placed in between them. These intermediate solutions act as buffers to homogenize the outlet concentration of the preceding cell and maintain a constant inlet concentration for the following cell. Desalination tests were conducted to compare the performance of the proposed system, consisting of two CDI units and one intermediate solution buffer, with a two-cascaded-CDI unit system with no intermediate solution. Desalination tests were performed in a high flow rate regime with a low salinity initial solution of NaCl in water. In the buffered arrangement, the concentration of the solution buffer was set at the minimum average outlet concentration of the first CDI test. Experimental data demonstrated the improved performance of the buffered system over the non-buffered system, in terms of desalination percentage and energy consumption. Increasing the number of CDI units and solution buffers in a buffered system, the new proposed method will lead to lower amount of energy consumed per unit volume of the desalinated water.

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