Zero Discharge Desalination (ZDD)
P.I: Dr. Malynda Cappelle
UTEP received $1.2 million in funding from the US Bureau of Reclamation for a multi-year research project to demonstrate and commercialize the Zero Discharge Desalination (ZDD) technology. Brackish groundwater in Alamogordo is nearly saturated in CaSO4(gypsum), which limits desalination recovery by reverse osmosis (RO) to about 75% without chemicals or softening. This project demonstrated ZDD at 20-40 gpm product flow with 97-98% hydraulic recovery treating feed water rich in calcium and sulfate.
During the first year, the project evaluated the incorporation of nanofiltration membranes and the design and procurement of a purpose-built demonstration system. The next years scaled up to 40-gpm and involved pilot activities at Reclamation's Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility (BGNDRF) in Alamogordo, New Mexico, as well as sites in Colorado and California (with external funding).
The Zero Discharge Desalination (ZDD) process maximizes the volume of product water from a brackish source while minimizing impacts to the environment caused by waste disposal. This effort was a partnership between The University of Texas at El Paso, Livingston Associates, and Veolia Water Solutions. UTEP and Veolia supported pilot demonstrations in Beverly Hills, California, with Black & Veatch, and pilot demonstrations in La Junta and Brighton, Colorado, with HDR and MWH.
Concentrate Enhanced Recovery Reverse Osmosis (CERRO™)
P.I: Dr. Anthony Tarquin
One of the greatest challenges to inland desalination projects is the disposal of the concentrate waste that is generated in membrane desalting operations. It is especially difficult to recover additional water from the concentrate when it is saturated with silica. Dr. Anthony Tarquin received funding for this research and development from several agencies, including the Texas Water Development Board, El Paso Water, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The research demonstrated that a CERRO system (with appropriate pH control and antiscalant dosage) is capable of recovering up to 85% of the water from the silica-saturated RO concentrate generated at the Kay Bailey Hutchison (KBH) desalting plant in El Paso, Texas. This would increase the overall recovery of the plant to 97%! El Paso Water was recently awarded a WaterSMART grant to evaluate 70 gal/min CERRO systems for wellhead RO systems.
The project will recover additional water from the concentrate streams and was reported to help El Paso Water save 49 million gallons of water. In 2018, the U.S. patent was issued to the inventors, Dr. Anthony Tarquin, Dr. W. Shane Walker, and Dr. Guillermo Delgado.
Magna Imperio Systems END Desalination at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility
PI: Dr.W. Shane Walker
Co-PI: Dr. Malynda Cappelle
CIDS is providing technical evaluation services and operational support for Magna Imperio Systems Corp (MIS). MIS is operating its END™ electro-desalination system at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility. This operation has included a 35-cell pair END™ stack (11.5 m2total membrane area) and a 3-stack END™ system (9.6 m2total membrane area), both with a nominal flow rate of 1 gallon per minute of product water. The END™ system was operated with antiscalant and acid in the brine for scale control and a sodium sulfate electrolyte solution with hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide for pH control. The system was operated at several setpoints in order to evaluate END™ performance for the desalination of brackish groundwater at BGNDRF. System recoveries above 90% have been demonstrated reliably with low energy consumption.
Evaluation of Bio-inspired Ion-Selective ED Membranes: A Collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories
PI: Dr. W. Shane Walker
Co-PI: Dr. Malynda Cappelle
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) has been tasked by the Department of Energy to develop bio-inspired ion-selective membranes for water desalination by electrodialysis. Biological ion-selective membranes exhibit thin (~5 nm) and narrow (<1 nm) permeation pathways with a high density of chemical groups lining those pathways. Biological membranes may yield as much as 100x increase in ion permeability and 20% higher selectivity for a specific type of ion compared with best-in-class commercially available electrodialysis membranes.
This project started with the late Dr. Tom Davis, and is now led by CIDS Director Shane Walker. PhD student A.H.M Golam Hyder is evaluating several commercially available ED membranes, developing a framework for comparison, and testing membranes produced by Sandia and its partners.
Alternatives to Pilot Testing
P.I: Dr. W. Shane Walker
The objectives of this project were to: (1) review methods and regulations for performance validation of membrane treatment systems among many states across the country, and (2) collect and analyze pilot and full-scale membrane performance data with respect to accuracy and precision of commercial computer models. The review used published reports and documents related to pilot studies of microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis in peer-reviewed journal articles and published studies to provide a final report will to the Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for possible revision of desalination piloting policy in the State of Texas. The report contained:
- General information on the current state of membrane technology including pending advances and schedule of implementation in the membrane market
- Legal implications of the pilot testing of various membrane processes
- Historical costs of membrane pilot testing in the State of Texas
- Past studies determining the accuracy of membrane prediction models
- Past studies determining the accuracy of other screening methods for membrane selection including flat sheet testing, single-element pilot testing, etc.
Sustainable Water USDA Research Center
Sustainable water resources for irrigated agriculture in a desert river basin facing climate change and competing demands: from characterization to solutions
The Sustainable Water Resources project is funded by the USDA under Grant No. 2015-68007-23130 to work with regional stakeholders developing a shared understanding of future scenarios of water availability and use in the Middle Rio Grande valley of southern New Mexico, west Texas, and northern Chihuahua.