Salinity gradient power by reverse electrodialysis: A multidisciplinary assessment in the Colombian context

Peer Reviewed
30 April 2021

Mateo Roldan-Carvajal, Sara Vallejo-Castaño, Oscar Álvarez-Silva, Sebastián Bernal-García, Santiago Arango-Aramburo, Carlos I. Sánchez-Sáenz, Andrés F. Osorio


This paper evaluates the implementation of salinity gradient power (SGP) based on reverse electrodialysis (RED) in the Caribbean region of Colombia, specifically at the Magdalena River mouth (MRM). Our multidisciplinary approach comprises technical, technological, and technology diffusion assessments (market analysis). We estimate the theoretical energy potential in the MRM from spatial and temporal measurements of the physical and biochemical properties of the waters. Thereafter, we compare the power output of a tailored RED prototype using synthetic solutions and untreated natural waters from MRM. Finally, we propose a dynamic model for RED diffusion in Colombia. Our results show that the MRM exhibits suitable conditions for harnessing SGP given the prevailing thermohaline structure, tolerable water quality, and an existing physical barrier between the sea and the river. However, our experiments demonstrated that maximum power is reduced by half when feeding with MRM waters. This is attributed to the divalent ions and low concentration of the river. Finally, the dynamic model shows that the learning rate and the initial operational costs are key variables for technology diffusion. This research is a pioneer in integrating multidisciplinary perspectives of SGP in emerging economies. However, this baseline may be further complemented with socio-political, and economic analyses.

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Publication reference
Roldan-Carvajal, M., Vallejo-Castaño, S., Álvarez-Silva, O., Bernal-García, S., Arango-Aramburo, S., Sánchez-Sáenz, C. I., & Osorio, A. F. (2021). Salinity gradient power by reverse electrodialysis: A multidisciplinary assessment in the Colombian context. Desalination, 503, 114933. doi:10.1016/j.desal.2021.114933

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Publication | 27 April 2021