Reclamation Awards $1.3 Million for Desalination and Advanced Water Treatment Research Grants

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, 303-445-3615

For Release: September 13, 2010

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor announced today that Reclamation has awarded $1,349,580 for five research and laboratory studies, one pilot test, and one demonstration project under the Desalination and Water Purification Program.

"Innovative solutions will be needed to address the growing water and energy needs in the west," said Commissioner Connor. "These grants will help Reclamation find new technologies to treat water more efficiently and with less energy to meet those future demands."

The program has three major goals. The first goal is to augment the supply of usable water in the United States. Second, it is to understand the environmental impacts of desalination and develop approaches to minimize these impacts relative to other water supply alternatives. The third goal is to develop approaches to lower the financial costs of desalination so that it is an attractive option relative to other alternatives in locations where traditional sources of water are inadequate.

The demonstration project will be conducted by the University of Texas at El Paso at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, N.M. They will receive $499,993 for the demonstration of Zero Discharge Desalination.

The pilot project will be conducted by the University of Nevada, Reno. They will receive $186,492 for Osmotically Assisted Desalination: A Low Energy Reverse Osmosis Hybrid Desalination System.

Five research and laboratory studies were funded. They are:

  • University of Houston for Aluminum Electrocoagulation and Electroflotation Pretreatment for Microfiltration: Fouling Reduction and Improvements in Filtered Water Quality. $150,000
  • University of Texas at El Paso for High-Volume Water Recovery from Silica-Saturated RO Concentrate using a Batch-Treatment Seawater RO System. $149,999
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute for Zwitterion-Functionalized Carbon Nanotube Membranes for Desalination Applications. $147,650
  • North Carolina State University for Production and Characterization of Inexpensive Renewable Based Material for Water Desalination and Heavy Metal Removal Applications. $121,992
  • University of Toledo for Static Mixing Spacers for Spiral Wound Desalination Modules. $93,454

These projects address concentrate disposal and reduction, use of renewable energy, process improvements, membrane development, new process development and mass transfer enhancement. The funding is being made available by the Desalination and Water Purification Research and Development Program. Through this program, Reclamation is partnering with private industry, universities, water utilities, and others to address a broad range of desalting and water purification needs.

This award builds on an earlier announcement this year of $2 million for Advanced Water Treatment Pilot and Demonstration Grants under the WaterSMART Program. This grant funded three pilot studies and one demonstration project.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

Desalination and Water Purification Program Research Awards, Fiscal Year 2010