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2005 Awards

Program Description || Solicitations || Published Reports || Results || Cost Share

:Task A: Membrane Process Research & Development Studies: The objective of this task is to develop improvements in membrane processes for brackish or seawater desalting or removal of specific contaminants.

  • Optimization of Chemical Cleaning of Organic-Fouled Reverse Osmosis Membranes
    The principal investigator is Menachem Elimelech from Yale University. Fouling continues to be one of the major impediments in the application of RO membranes in water treatment. This project will assess the applicability of various cleaning chemicals with respect to cleaning efficiency, cleaning cost and environmental impact. It includes development of a methodology to select the optimal combination of chemical cleaning agents based on the foulant concentrations. Total project cost is $97,570; Reclamation's contribution $97,570.

  • Reduced Membrane Fouling Potential by Tailored Fluid/Structure Interaction
    The principal investigator is Kevin Farrell from Heat Transfer Research. This will be a computer simulation of flow around turbulence promoters within spiral wound reverse osmosis elements. The objective is to determine favorable conditions that can use the alternating shear stresses to decrease the fouling potential at the membrane surface. Total project cost is $40,000; Reclamation's contribution $10,000.

  • Use of Dendrimers to Enhance Selective Separation by Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis Membranes
    The principal investigator is Craig Bartels from Hydranautics. In some desalination applications, a number of minor components, such as boron and nitrate have to be removed to meet water quality requirements. This research will study whether is it efficient to disperse dendrimers, an adsorbent, for particular materials into the water where they will attract specific components which will then be rejected by the membranes rather than developing specific membranes for each minor component. Total project cost is $144,400; Reclamation's contribution $72,200.

  • Electrocoagulation Pretreatment for Microfiltration: An Innovative Combination to Enhance Water Quality and Reduce Fouling
    The principal investigator is Shankar Chellam from the University of Houston. Previous research indicated that electrocoagulation, use of electricity to remove contaminants instead of chemicals, is an effective method of pretreatment for integrated membrane systems. This research will show whether the promising results obtained with synthetic waters are valid for natural surface waters, characterized by turbidity, natural organic matter and other contaminants. Total project cost is $147,781; Reclamation's contribution $99,881.

  • Characterization of Membrane Foulants in Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination
    The principal investigator is Mark Clark from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This project will focus on fractionating seawater foulants by size to determine what type of foulants are the major contributors to membrane fouling. A variety of analytical techniques will be used to characterize the foulant materials. Total project cost is $124,679; Reclamation's contribution $98,470.

Task B: Thermal Process Research & Development Studies

The objective of this task is to develop improvements in thermally driven desalting processes, including thermal processes which are generally applied to seawater desalting due to the high energy requirements.

The current fiscal year 2005 contract is:

  • Barriers to Thermal Desalination in the United States
    The principal investigator is John Tonner from Water Consultants International. While much of the rest of the world uses thermal process for desalination, only reverse osmosis appears to be considered for large seawater desalination plants in the United States. The investigation will summarize what barriers, regulatory and other, prohibit use of thermal desalination here. Total project cost is $73,150; Reclamation's contribution $35,038.

Task C: Non-Traditional/Alternative Desalination Process Research & Studies

The objective of this task is to investigate non-traditional or alternative desalination techniques, and the evaluation of these processes to be economically and thermodynamically efficient.

The current fiscal year 2005 contracts are:

  • Evaluation of Newly Developed MBR Systems for Water Reclamation
    The principal investigator is James DeCarolis from MWH Americas in Pasadena, California. The use of membrane bioreactors for reclamation of municipal wastewater has increased significantly in the past few years. Under this project, third-party performance evaluations and Title 22 approval testing of newly developed MBR systems will be performed. Additionally, the performance of RO systems following the MBRs will be evaluated and cost estimates for the MBR/RO process will be updated and refined. Total project cost is $558,184; Reclamation's contribution $99,960.

  • Wind Power and Water Desalination Technology Integration
    The principal investigators are Ken Rainwater and Andy Swift from Texas Tech University. This project will investigate and quantify system designs and economics of integrated wind-water systems. The work will focus on municipal, ranch and farm, and industrial applications. Work will include representative systems designs, assessment of economic trends and market forces, estimates of market size and projected system economics. Total project cost is $99,970; Reclamation's contribution $99,970.

  • Techno-Economic Feasibility Study of Wind Powered Desalination for a Community Scale Distributed Generation Application
    The principal investigator is James Manwell from the University of Massachusetts. The Town of Hull, MA, is considering use of a seawater desalination plant, primarily driven by wind power, to augment their water supply. The results of this project will provide a study of desalination powered by renewable energy based on real-life economics and logistics. Total project $99,914; Reclamation's contribution $99,914.

Task D: Water Recycling and Reuse

The objective of this task is to support activities directed at innovative methods to treat municipal, industrial, or agricultural wastewaters. Funding for reuse projects are now provided under Reclamation's Title XVI program.

Completed work pending publication:

  • Comparison of Treatment Methods for Partial Desalting of Tertiary Effluents
    The principal investigator is Eric Rosenblum from the City of San Jose. This project pilot-tested the treatment of treated secondary effluent by EDR and MF/RO at the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant for a parallel evaluation of both technologies. Total project $296,394; Reclamation's contribution $50,000.

  • Treatment of Wastewater for Water Reuse by a Catalytic Sonochemical Process: Phases I
    The principal investigator is C.P. Huang from University of Delaware. The report on the pilot study phase of this project has been published. See DWPR Report No. 88.

Task E: Ancillary and Economic Improvements

The objective of this task is to conduct studies that relate to the general economic improvement of desalination processes. This includes methods for evaluating economic implications of technological improvements; studies optimizing cost and/or design for different operating conditions, such as hybrid or dual purpose systems; and methods for measuring economic efficiency.

Task F: Concentrate Issues

The objective of this task is to conduct studies which will evaluate the various problems related to concentrate disposal, and develop innovative techniques to reduce concentrate disposal costs and impacts on the environment. Regulations controlling concentrate disposal will be evaluated on a state-by-state basis, and research findings will be thoroughly evaluated to back-up suggested regulatory changes.

The current fiscal year 2005 contract is:

  • Evaluation and Selection of Available Processes for a Zero-Liquid Discharge System for the Perris, California Groundwater Basin
    The principal investigator is Behrooz Mortazavi from Eastern Municipal Water District of Perris, California. Even though the water district is located in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, it has a serious problem with concentrate disposal. This research will evaluate a number of possible means of concentrate disposal in a real-world setting. Total project cost is $292,051; Reclamation's contribution $99,989.

Task G: Testing of Pilot-Scale Systems

The objective of this task is to design, construct, and test pilot-scale systems.

The Mobile Treatment Plant (MTP) can be an essential part of Task G. The MTP was originally conceived to provide technical assistance to small and Native American communities which lack financial resources to remove the health risks from their water supply and meet increasingly stringent water quality regulations. The MTP is used to test new technologies and determine the optimum water treatment process which achieves the desired product water quality. For qualified communities, the MTP and supporting staff of engineers, chemists, scientists, and technicians will address water treatment problems and recommend solutions on a 50-50 cost-share basis.

The current fiscal year 2005 contracts are:

  • Seawater Desalination Pilot Project
    The principal investigator is Alvin Bautista from Los Angeles Water and Power. LAWPD plans to build the first seawater desalination plant for the City of Los Angeles. Prior to developing a full scale facility, a 40-gallon-per minute pilot project is planned that will focus on the technical feasibility and cost of using water discharged from an existing power generating station's condenser. Technologies developed by the project will be applicable at other locations in the United States that seek a similar application. Total project cost is $2,421,000; Reclamation's first year contribution $150,000.

  • Pilot-Scale Studies for Direct Contact Membrane Distillation-Based Desalination Process
    The principal investigator is Kamalesh Sirkar from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Direct Contact Membrane Distillation (DCMD) is a process in which warmer supply water flows over a membrane with cooler water on the other side. A special hollow fiber membrane has been developed for this process. The roles of brine velocity, brine feed temperature, distillate flow rate brine concentrate recirculation rates and others are being determined. Cost estimates of water production will be developed to permit comparison of DCMD with established desalination technologies. Total project cost is $309,811; Reclamation's second year contribution $119,815.

  • Pilot Testing of Zero-Discharge Seawater Desalination
    The principal investigator is Thomas Davis from the University of South Carolina. The ZDD process is based on the premise that seawater has several valuable constituents, but their value can only be realized if their separation is economically and technically feasible. Under a previous contract, a hybrid reverse-osmosis-electrodialysis-nanofiltration process was developed and verified for a batch process. Total project cost is $270,000; Reclamation's second year contribution $100,000.

  • Membrane Technology for the Recovery of Produced Water
    The principal investigator is Alan Bierle from Western Environmental Management. An abundance of produced water is generated when removing oil and gas from the ground. Disposal can be either environmentally damaging or expensive or both. This pilot scale unit contains ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and reverse osmosis units. Verification of technology and operating data for each unit are being measured at an oil field injection well site in Carlsbad, NM. Feasibility capital and maintenance costs will be developed. Total project cost is $471,925; Reclamation's second year contribution $84,999.

On-going fiscal year 2001/2002 contracts include:

  • Dewvaporation Desalination 10,000 GPD Pilot-Plant
    The principal investigators are James Beckman and L'Eau LLC. Dewvaporation technique is related to the humidification/dehumidification desalination technique but does not use water as a major heat source or sink. Rather dewvaporation uses air as a carrier-gas to evaporate water from saline feeds and dew forms pure condensate at constant atmospheric pressure in a single heat transferring tower. This project is a follow-on of previously funded research work. A 10,000 GPD dewvaporation pilot-plant will be installed and operated at the 23rd Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant in Phoenix, AZ. RO effluent will be the feedwater for the dewvaporation unit. The 5,000 ppm TDS RO effluent will be concentrated to more than 200,000 ppm TDS, thereby reducing the brine stream volume to 2% of the RO effluent (98% recovery). The dewvaporation operating cost is $3.50/1,000 gal using natural gas as a heat source (compared to $12/1,000 gal for vapor compression evaporators). In this pilot-study, concentrate volume will be even further reduced resulting in wet salt solids being generated for disposal, at the same dewvaporation cost (compared to $30/1,000 gal for industrial crystallizers). Total 2 year project $540,000; Reclamation's contribution $270,000.
Task H: Partnerships

The objective of this task is to enter into cost-shared partnerships with water research organizations to co-fund others to perform basic and applied research on advanced water treatment and desalting processes.

On-going National Science Foundation partnerships include:

  • CU Center for Membrane Applied Science and Technology
  • MSU Center for Biofilm Engineering
  • Univ of AZ Water Quality Center

On-going partnerships include:

  • American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AWWARF)
  • WateReuse Research Foundation (WRF)
  • National Water Research Institute (NWRI)

Task I: Design, Construction, and Testing of Plants and Modules

The objective of this task is to perform detailed design, construction, and testing of demonstration plants.

Current fiscal year 2005 contract :

  • DanaPointOcean Desalination Project
    The principal investigator is Richard Bell from the Municipal Water District of Orange County. The purpose of this project is to advance the utilization of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD)/slant well technology for construction of feed water supply systems for ocean desalination plants sited near the mouths of stream or river systems. This demonstration project addresses the technical, economical and operational feasibility of HDD/slant well technology in alluvial marine aquifers for ocean feed water supply and pretreatment. Total project cost is $1,458,107; Reclamation's contribution $360,000.