EDI products are used worldwide to produce ultrapure water systems in diverse applications, including power generation, pharmaceutical, semiconductor, petrochemical and laboratory pure water systems.AES offers custom build EDI systems in various capacities.


Electrodeionization (EDI) is a process by which an electric field is used to remove ions and polar species from an aqueous stream. EDI is used with reverse osmosis to replace ion exchange resin-mixed beds, which require onsite or offsite chemical regeneration.

By eliminating resin regenerating chemicals, EDI delivers significant economic and environmental benefits. EDI’s continuous process improves water quality by reducing water quality spikes and upsets.

Two electrodes are on either side of multiple EDI compartments, which are known as diluting chambers and concentrating chambers. As water flows through the EDI module and power is applied.

There are three processes occurring simultaneously:

  • The deionization process where the water is purified by ion exchange
  • Ion migration where the ions are removed from the resin
  • Continuous regeneration of the resin.

Diluting chambers (Feed) are the portion containing mixed bed ion exchange resin where water is purified or diluted of ions. Concentrating chambers (Conc) are the areas where water is concentrated of ions, and becomes waste water. The Dilute chambers contain both cation exchange resin and anion exchange resin.

The Dilute and Concentrate chambers are separated by ion exchange membranes. The membranes are similar in material and charge to the ion exchange resin. For example, cation exchange membranes only allow cations to pass, and anion exchange membranes only allow anions to pass. Water and oppositely charged ions may not pass across the ion exchange membrane used in EDI.


Deionization is the removal of ions — both positively charged cations and negatively charged anions. As the feed water contacts the resin, the contaminant cations such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and ammonium have a higher affinity to the site charges on a resin bead than a hydrogen ion. The cation exchange resin releases a hydrogen ion to bond with the cation. The contaminant anions — such as carbonate, bicarbonate, chloride, sulfate, nitrate, fluoride, silica, boron and carbonic acid — have a higher affinity to the anion exchange resin than hydroxide. The anion exchange resin releases a hydroxide ion to bond with the anion. The released hydrogen and hydroxide ions bond to form water. Water is purified, or deionized, by the removal of the cations and anions as it flows through the mixed resin bed.

Ion Migration

The second process in electrodeionization is ion migration. This differs from chemically regenerated ion exchange as EDI continuously removes the ions from the resin. Conventional ion exchange resin becomes exhausted until chemical regeneration occurs. EDI power sources supply a DC electrical current between the two electrodes. The electrical current is the movement of electrons between the electrodes, from the anode to the cathode. The electrode with a negative charge is the cathode, where reduction of the oxidation number occurs (electrons are available). The electrode which oxidizes (takes electrons) is the anode and has a positive charge. As the ions are removed from the feed water, cations that have lost electrons are attracted to the negative cathode where electrons are supplied, or the oxidation number is reduced. Likewise, anions are attracted to the negative anode where electrons leave the cell or oxidation number increases.

The positively charged ions will migrate through the cation resin bed, through the cation exchange membrane and into the concentrate chamber due to their attraction to the cathode. Negatively charged ions will migrate through the anion resin bed, through the anion exchange membrane and into the concentrate chamber due to their attraction to the anode. Once the ions are in the concentrate stream, they are not able to continue their migration to the electrode as they encounter an oppositely charged ion exchange membrane which does not permit entry to the adjacent diluting chamber. Concentrate water exits the EDI module and is most often sent directly to drain since this is typically only 5-10 percent of the feed water.

Continuous Regeneration

As the ions are removed and migrate to the concentrate chamber is resin regeneration. With conventional ion exchange, the resin is regenerated with acid and caustic chemicals. Hydrochloric acid (HCl), or sometimes sulphuric acid (H2SO4), is applied to cation exchange resin to regenerate. When this is done, the massive concentration of H+ displaces the cations on the resin. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is applied to an ion exchange resin and the massive concentration of OH- displaces the anions from the resin. EDI does not require acid to regenerate the cation exchange resin, nor does it require caustic chemicals to regenerate the anion resin. Instead, it takes advantage of the electrical current that is applied across the EDI module.

In the presence of the electrical field, a phenomenon is known as “water splitting” occurs. The electricity causes a small percentage of water molecules to split into hydrogen and hydroxide ions which continuously regenerate the resin bed: H2O → H+ + OH-.

Therefore, EDI operation is continuous. The ions are continuously removed, and the resin is continuously regenerated without chemicals.