Wastewater Brine Purification and Recovery through Electrodialysis Ion Exchange



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50th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Reutilizing resources onboard the International Space Station (ISS) and for future deep space missions are critical for mission longevity and sustainability. Wastewater brine produced from water recovery systems contain chemical species that could be processed into a potential fertilizer for future plant systems. This can be achieved through a process called electrodialysis ion exchange. Wastewater containing inorganic salt components are fed through a series of ion exchange membranes to produce fertilizer (a phosphate rich stream), electrolysis-grade water, and other useful commodities. Electrodialysis cells consisting of anion and cation exchange membranes, monovalent anion exchange membranes, and bipolar membranes were utilized to achieve selective ion exchange. The use of the electrodialysis cells were effective for both water extraction and ion separation. Ions successfully diffused across their respective membranes into the concentrate, acid, and base streams. This resulted in pure water, a phosphate rich stream, and a separate anion/hydrogen and cation/hydroxide stream. However, sulfate and some phosphate ions were able to diffuse through the monovalent anion exchange membrane into the acid stream. This resulted in predominantly phosphate ions remaining in the concentrate. Optimization of the process was accomplished by altering flowrates of each stream and initial volumes, adjusting the power input and resulting current through each cell, and varying the starting parameters by splitting the inorganic waste input into the diluate and the concentrate. As expected, increasing the flowrate and the power input to each cell reduced the overall time of the process. However, mission constraints may require a longer duration process in order to reduce the power consumption. Further analysis will be required to determine the power input necessary to achieve ion diffusion effectively and in a timely manner.


Matthew Hancock, NASA
Sarah Snyder, Amentum
Paul Hintze, NASA
ICES303: Physio-Chemical Life Support- Water Recovery & Management Systems- Technology and Process Development
The 50th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held virtually on 12 July 2021 through 14 July 2021.


wastewater recovery, fertilizer production, electrodialysis, ion exchange membranes, anion/cation exchange membranes, monovalent anion exchange membranes, bipolar membranes