Progress and prospects in reverse electrodialysis for salinity gradient energy conversion and storage

Ramato Ashu Tufa, Sylwin Pawlowski, Joost Veerman, Karel Bouzek, Enrica Fontananova, Gianluca di Profio, Svetlozar Velizarov, João Goulão Crespo, Kitty Nijmeijer, Efrem Curcio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

207 Citations (Scopus)
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Salinity gradient energy is currently attracting growing attention among the scientific community as a renewable energy source. In particular, Reverse Electrodialysis (RED) is emerging as one of the most promising membrane-based technologies for renewable energy generation by mixing two solutions of different salinity. This work presents a critical review of the most significant achievements in RED, focusing on membrane development, stack design, fluid dynamics, process optimization, fouling and potential applications. Although RED technology is mainly investigated for energy generation from river water/seawater, the opportunities for the use of concentrated brine are considered as well, driven by benefits in terms of higher power density and mitigation of adverse environmental effects related to brine disposal. Interesting extensions of the applicability of RED for sustainable production of water and hydrogen when complemented by reverse osmosis, membrane distillation, bio-electrochemical systems and water electrolysis technologies are also discussed, along with the possibility to use it as an energy storage device. The main hurdles to market implementation, predominantly related to unavailability of high performance, stable and low-cost membrane materials, are outlined. A techno-economic analysis based on the available literature data is also performed and critical research directions to facilitate commercialization of RED are identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)290-331
Number of pages42
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Fouling
  • Hydrogen production
  • Ion exchange membranes
  • Low-energy desalination
  • Reverse electrodialysis
  • Salinity Gradient Power
  • Techno-economic ANALYSIS


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