- Utilizing FCDI to treat fluoride-contaminated brackish groundwater is quite effective.
- SCC was the most advantageous among the three operational modes of SCC, SC and ICC.
- F– was preferentially removed compared to Cl– with a high ion selectivity achievable.
- Steady-state effluent F– and Cl– concentrations versus current are greatly different.
Herein, we demonstrated the suitability and effectiveness of utilizing flow-electrode capacitive deionization (FCDI) for treatment of fluoride-contaminated brackish groundwater. By comparing operational modes of short-circuited closed-cycle (SCC), isolated closed-cycle (ICC) and single cycle (SC), it was found that SCC mode was the most advantageous. In SCC configuration, the effects of different parameters on the removal of F– and Cl– were investigated including current density, hydraulic residence time (HRT), activated carbon (AC) loading and feed concentration of coexisting NaCl. Results indicated that the steady-state effluent Cl– concentration dropped with elevated applied current, and the decreasing rate got faster with the increase of HRT or AC loading. However, for the steady-state effluent F– concentration, it dropped to a value under a small applied current and maintained stable in spite of the increase in applied current, and both HRT and AC loading had insignificant effects on the steady-state effluent F– concentration. F– was preferentially removed from the treated water compared with Cl–, and a higher ion selectivity could be obtained at lower applied current and smaller HRT with the trade-off being that operation under these circumstances would generate outlet water with little change in conductivity compared to the influent. The removal efficiencies of F– and Cl– both decreased with increasing feed concentration of coexisting NaCl. This study should be of value in establishing FCDI as a viable technology for treatment of fluoride-contaminated brackish groundwater.