An electrically regeneratable electrochemical cell (30) for capacitive deionization and electrochemical purification and regeneration of electrodes includes two end plates (31, 32), one at each end of the cell (30). Two end electrodes (35, 36) are arranged one at each end of the cell (30), adjacent to the end plates (31, 32). An insulator layer (33) is interposed between each end plate (31, 32) and the adjacent end electrode (35, 36). Each end electrode (35, 36) includes a single sheet (44) of conductive material having a high specific surface area and sorption capacity. In one embodiment, the sheet (44) of conductive material is formed of carbon aerogel composite. The cell (30) further includes a plurality of generally identical double-sided intermediate electrodes (37-43) that are equidistally separated from each other, between the two end electrodes (35, 36). As the electrolyte enters the cell, it flows through a continuous open serpentine channel (65-71) defined by the electrodes, substantially parallel to the surfaces of the electrodes. By polarizing the cell (30), ions are removed from the electrolyte and are held in the electric double layers formed at the carbon aerogel surfaces of the electrodes. As the cell (30) is saturated with the removed ions, the cell (30) is regenerated electrically, thus significantly minimizing secondary wastes.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.