Self-Sustained Visible-Light-Driven Electrochemical Redox Desalination

The freshwater scarcity and increasing energy demand are two challenging global issues. Herein, we propose a new route for desalination, self-sustained visible-light-driven electrochemical redox desalination. We propose a novel device architecture involving internal integration of a quasi-solid-state dye-sensitized solar cell and continuous redox-flow desalination units with a bifunctional platinized-graphite-paper electrode. Both the solar cell and redox-flow desalination units are integrated using the bifunctional electrode with one side facing the solar cell operating as a positive electrode and the other side facing the redox-flow desalination unit operating as a negative electrode. The solar cell contains a gel-based tri-iodide/iodide redox couple sandwiched between an N719 dye-modified photoanode and cathode. In contrast, the redox-flow desalination consists of re-circulating ferro/ferricyanide redox couple sandwiched between the anode and cathode with two salt streams located between these electrodes. The performances of bifunctional electrodes in both redox couples were thoroughly investigated by electrochemical characterization. The brackish feed can be continuously desalted to the freshwater level by utilizing visible light illumination. As a device, this architecture combines energy conversion and water desalination. This concept bypasses the need for electrical energy consumption for desalination, which provides a novel structural design using photodesalination to facilitate the development of self-sustained solar desalination technologies.