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Pushing the Limit on Desalination: An Update from the NAWI Research Program

Join Dr. Peter Fiske, Executive Director – National Alliance for Water Innovation, at the WFI 2022 Annual Conference on December 7, 2022. He will be addressing desalination and the updates from the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI).

Pushing the Limit on Desalination: An Update from the NAWI Research Program

The National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) is a 5-year, $110M applied research program sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Energy and focused on technology innovations to lower the levelized cost of water produced by desalination. Now beginning its third year of research projects, NAWI researchers are beginning to report important results that suggest a future where desalination is used to produce fresh water from a wide range of non-traditional water sources (not just ocean water) at a cost comparable to the current marginal water supply in any area is within reach.

One major focus of the NAWI program is to drive toward higher recovery rates for desalination. Current conventional RO membranes and processes can produce fresh water from brines up to osmotic pressure of 120 bars, limiting the salinity treatable using conventional reverse osmosis. NAWI is attacking this challenge on several fronts. First, we have researched to greatly increase the pressure at which conventional thin film polymeric membranes can operate by both stiffening the support structures and optimizing the mechanical design of membrane/support/spacer systems. Second, we have developed a novel method for 3D printing thin film membranes using electrospray technologies, allowing us to make anisotropic membranes out of a much wider range of stronger polymeric chemistries. Third, we are developing novel osmotic cycles that can allow us to recover more water from higher-concentration brines by cascading the process through a series of RO steps (Osmotically-Assisted RO) or by using membranes engineered to leak some salt and thus relieve osmotic pressure across the membrane (Low Salt Rejection RO). These innovations, along with breakthroughs in brine crystallization, may allow us to field ultra-high recovery RO systems capable of reducing any wastewater or brine into pure water and dry solutes.

2022 Product of the Year Nomination

The award is set to promote product development in the filtration and separation industry for a clean, healthy, and sustainable world. Find more about the 2022 Product of the Year Nomination HERE.


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