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Released On: August 29, 2013

Nine Projects Selected to Share $1.1 Million for Desalination and Water Purification Research
More cost-effective and efficient water desalination methods envisioned
WASHINGTON - Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor announced that nine entities will share more than $1.1 million in awards in support of laboratory and pilot scale research studies in the field of water desalination and purification. Through required cost shares of up to 75%, Reclamation’s funding will be leveraged to support a total of $3 million in research.

"Desalination and other advanced water treatment technologies have the potential to provide new water sources for communities," Commissioner Connor said. "This research effort will examine innovative technologies that have the potential to reduce the cost of treating brackish water - helping to create new tools for addressing future water challenges."

The funding was provided through Reclamation’s Desalination and Water Purification Research Program. Through this program, Reclamation works in partnership with entities to develop more cost-effective and efficient ways to desalinate water.

The laboratory scale projects selected for funding this year are:

  • Membrane Structural and Transport Fundamentals for Augmenting Traditional Water Supplies; Pennsylvania State University, $95,467 - This project will look at developing detailed metrics to learn how current membranes could be improved for inland water treatment challenges. The purpose is to demonstrate the feasibility of low-energy membranes for inland water treatment applications and augmenting usable water supplies for inland states.
  • Evaluation of a Small Rural Community Zero Liquid Discharge Desalination System; Trussell Technologies Inc; $149,446 - Trussell Technologies of Pasadena, Calif., will perform a process evaluation study on a unique, zero liquid discharge desalination system specifically being used for a small, rural community. This research will aid in development of zero liquid discharge water treatment system for small rural communities at a reasonable cost and with a realistic operation strategy.
  • Energy-efficient and Sustainable, Microbial Electrolysis-Deionization System for Salt and Organics Removal; University of Tennessee, $150,000 - The University of Tennessee will investigate the capability of combining microbes and electrolysis to treat wastewater and produced water to augment water resources and water reuse for various uses. This combination of treatments can provide a sustainable treatment option while recovering energy and nutrients.
  • Barometric Evaporator Desalination Project; Sephton Water Technology, $29,836 - Sephton Water Technology, Inc. of Kensington, Calif., will test a prototype barometric evaporator at the existing pilot facility in Imperial County, Calif., which is currently testing the vertical tube evaporator technology. The goal of this project is to test the barometric evaporator prototype and apply the technology to provide steam generation for a vertical tube evaporator to treat water at the Salton Sea.
  • Autonomous Low Energy Consumption Cyclic Desalination Systems; University of California Los Angeles, $150,000 - University of California, Los Angeles has proposed a new technology concept of cyclic reverse osmosis in order to obtain a smaller and mobile unit to treat impaired and underutilized water sources. It is expected that the operational and configuration flexibilities of this technology will enable a wide variety of water sources over a wider range of salinities while using optimal energy.
  • Operation of Commercial Sized Solar Desalination Still; Suns River, $45,022 - Suns River, located in Many, La., will continue its research and work on a solar desalination still that has been tested at a small scale at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Facility last year. A larger scale solar still will be constructed to help further research already conducted and identify feasibility of the solar still to treat brackish groundwater in small rural areas.
  • Evaluation and Development of a New Type of Polymer-based Water Desalination Membrane; University of Colorado, $134,544 - The University of Colorado will investigate two aspects of a new thin film composite lyotropic liquid crystal polymer membrane system; scaling up the preparation of the new membrane material and design more economical and easily synthesized monomers. This new membrane is focused to work as a nanofiltration and reverse osmosis type polyamide membrane.

The pilot scale projects selected for funding are:

  • City of Corpus Christi Desalination Pilot Study; City of Corpus Christi, Texas, $200,000 - Corpus Christi has been dealing with drastic drought conditions over the last decade and this pilot project will aid in exploring a variety of options to optimize the pre-treatment process. The results will form the basis of design for a full-scale facility including operating parameters, cost information and product water quality to assess feasibility of a seawater and/or brackish groundwater supply.
  • Reverse Osmosis Concentrate Management through Halophyte Farming; University of Arizona, $148,053 - This project will continue building on some previous research done in the area of concentrate management via halophyte farming and using this salt resistant crop to manage concentrate produced from water desalination. The pilot project would be conducted at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Facility in Alamogordo, N.M., and will enable the construction of the agricultural research testing area at the facility.

Successful applicants were chosen through a competitive, merit-reviewed process. Entities that were eligible include individuals, institutions of higher education, commercial or industrial organizations, private entities, public entities or Indian Tribal governments. Entities, except institutions of higher learning, must cost-share at least 75% of the project cost.

You can learn more about Advanced Water Treatment at: www.usbr.gov/awt.

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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 www.usbr.gov.