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Development of Electromembrane Processes for Waste Stream Treatment

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Objectives and content
The normative trend towards more stringent regulations as regards acid disposal, makes attractive the use of electromembrane processes such as ElectroDialysis (ED) and Electro-ElectroDialysis (EED) for the acid recovery and reconcentration from industrial waste streams. Japanese companies (and to a lesser extent the American ones), however, own most of the technological know-how and ultimately control the world market as regards the electromembrane processes. The European industry, therefore, has to overcome a gap with Japan and USA in this field, where the demand from various industrial sectors is likely to strongly increase in the short and medium term.The objective of this project is the development of electromembrane processes which use ion exchange membranes, in particular the bipolar ones (BM), and electrolytic equipments developed by European companies for the design of more environmentally sustainable processes. Specifically the following processes will be developed:
-ED with bipolar membranes for acid and base recovery from the corresponding salt solutions;
-EED for acid recovery and metal separation from spent industrial baths; - ED for process stream purification;
In order to achieve these objectives and prove the technical and economical feasibility of the above processes, the following waste streams arising from different industrial compartments have been selected:
-phenylalanine waste stream, containing ammonium and sodium sulphate, arising from the process industry (DSM);
-ammonium nitrate waste solutions arising from the nuclear fuel industry (Comurhex);
The project will be developed according to following main tasks: -Development, manufacturing and testing of monopolar and bipolar/bifilm membranes.
-Design, manufacturing and testing of the electrolytic equipments for EDBM, EED and ED processes;
-Pilot loop tests with both synthetic and real waste streams in order to define process parameters;
-Design and manufacturing of the pre-industrial EDBM, EED and ED pilots for field tests;
-Field tests at the end user sites to test the processes in real operating conditions;
-Process scale-up and cost-benefit analysis for each tested application.
The project will be lead by a core group formed by CISE (process engineer), Solvay (membrane manufacturer) and Electrocell AB (Electrolytic cell manufacturer) which provide the main expertise for the process development, and, as a perspective, can insure an effective market exploitation. The participation of university laboratories and research centers (U. Bruxelles, U. Montpellier, Technomembranes), provides a specific scientific support for membrane characterisation and testing; while the presence of end users from three different industrial applications (including a SME) drives the technology development towards the real market needs. Due to these features the project can be considered highly multisectorial.

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CESI CENTRO ELETTROTECNICO SPERIMENTALE ITALIANO GIACINTO MOTTA SPA
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