Strategies for simultaneous improvement of reaction rate and caustic efficiency of brine electrolyzer

Jaewon Kim, Saleem Abbas, Hyun Jin Shin, Syed B.H. Rizvi, Ki Bong Lee, Heung Yong Ha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brine electrolyzers can produce HCl and NaOH concurrently using NaCl-concentrated wastewater discharged from various desalination processes. However, the electrolyzers still have poor performance, and thus commercialization is retarded. The main factor affecting the performance of this technology is the trade-off between reaction rate and caustic efficiency. This study aims to improve the reaction rate and caustic efficiency simultaneously by optimizing the operating conditions of the electrolyzer. Through various experiments, we have found that increasing the applied voltage and operating temperature can effectively enhance the reaction rate and caustic efficiency. This is because the relative permeation rate of sodium ions over protons through the Nafion membrane increases with temperature and applied voltage. Under the optimal conditions, the reaction rate is significantly enhanced by 2.1 times (from 86.5 mA cm−2 to 179.2 mA cm−2) and the caustic efficiency by 1.6 times (from 56% to 90%) compared to the standard conditions. The mechanism for the improved performance is revealed by investigating the permeation behavior of ions through the membrane. It is found that protons hinder the permeation of sodium ions, but increasing the temperature and/or applied voltage overcomes this interference. A long-term test for 1600 h confirms the stability and feasibility of the electrolyzer. Overall, this study is expected to contribute to commercializing brine electrolyzers for HCl and NaOH production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146706
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Nov 15

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Brine electrolyzer
  • HCl production
  • Ion permeation
  • NaOH production
  • Optimization of operating conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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