New Generation Solar Crystallizer towards Sustainable Brine Treatment with Zero-Liquid-Discharge and Resource Extraction

  • Chenlin Zhang (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (Creator)



Proper disposal of industrial brine has been a critical environmental challenge. Driven by the even-tightening environment protection regulations, the Zero-Liquid-Discharge (ZLD) has gradually become mandatory option for brine disposal, but its application is limited by the intensive energy consumption. The recent development of solar crystallizer provides a new strategy to achieve ZLD brine disposal. However, the research on solar crystallizer, employing photothermal material to convert solar energy to heat for interfacial brine evaporation and crystallization, is still at the early stage. This dissertation thoroughly investigated the solar crystallizer-based ZLD technology in a broad scientific and application context. The scaling formation while treating real brine, which has been the major barrier to the application of solar crystallizer, was confirmed first with a solar crystallizer device. With a rational designed anti-scaling mechanism, the scaling-free crystallization behavior and stable high water evaporation rate of 2.42 kg m-2 h-1 was achieved when treating real seawater brine. After verifying the feasibility of solar crystallizer towards real brine treatment, its performance was further improved by integrating convective airflow, which provided considerable environmental energy for water evaporation. Both experiment results and COMSOL simulation results confirmed that the maximum environmental energy harvesting can be achieved with the proper size of solar crystallizer. At last, this dissertation pioneered a novel concept of integrating adsorption process into solar crystallizer for simultaneously ZLD brine treatment and potassium extraction. Owing to the special ion concentration behavior of solar crystallizer, the adsorption capacity and selectivity coefficient of absorbent was enhanced by 19.5% and 48.8%, respectively, comparing with traditional bulk adsorption. This dissertation potentially unlocks a new generation of ZLD technology with low carbon footprint and source recovery. More research efforts will be inspired on its applications in real scenarios.
Date made available2021
PublisherKAUST Research Repository

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