April 27, 2023 – The Bureau of Reclamation has granted funds to 15 innovative research projects aimed at improving water treatment and reducing costs under the Desalination and Water Purification Research program. These projects will help develop new technologies to treat previously unusable water and increase water supply flexibility in the face of climate change and drought.
The program offers financial aid for advanced water treatment research, leading to better technologies for creating water supplies from non-traditional sources like seawater, brackish groundwater, and municipal wastewater. The federal government has contributed $4 million to these projects, while recipients have added an extra $3 million of non-federal support.
Here are some of the funded projects in the Colorado River Basin states:
- Pacifica Water Solutions, LLC: Field Pilot Testing Electrically Conducting Nanofiltration and Reverse Osmosis Membranes ($350,000 federal funding, $700,000 total project cost). This project tests innovative desalination membranes against commercial ones for reverse osmosis concentrate minimization and produced water applications.
- University of California, Riverside: Development of a Novel Vacuum-ultraviolet Photochemical System for Treatment of Nitrate and Per Fluorinated Substances from Inland Desalination Brine ($250,000 federal funding, $390,754 total project cost). This project tests a new vacuum ultraviolet light-driven process for treating nitrate and perfluoroalkyl substances from inland desalination brine.
- University of Colorado: Concentrate Minimization: Pilot Testing of Improved Static Mixer Crystallizers ($592,703 federal funding, $756,246 total project cost). This project tests and evaluates improved in-line static mixer elements to speed up desupersaturation of reverse osmosis desalination brine.
- University of Colorado: Robust Surface Patterned Membranes for Membrane Distillation of High Salinity Brine with High Efficiency ($250,000 federal funding, $396,501 total project cost). This project develops and tests scalable, robust, surface-patterned microporous membranes for treating highly concentrated brines in membrane distillation processes.
- Mickley & Associates LLC: Brine Mining ($111,500 federal funding, $234,150 total project cost). This project examines brine mining, looking at potential benefits, feasibility, applicable technologies, recoverable compounds, and more.
- New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology: Advanced Hybrid Membrane Process for Simultaneous Recovery of Clean Water and Lithium from High Salinity Brines ($249,896 federal funding, $499,792 total project cost). This project aims to develop a hybrid membrane process for recovering clean water and lithium from high-salinity brines simultaneously.
These projects showcase a diverse range of approaches to address the challenges of water treatment and desalination. By developing innovative solutions and technologies, these research efforts have the potential to improve water supply flexibility and sustainability, while also addressing the impacts of climate change and drought on global water resources.