Geothermal membrane distillation for desalination – research receives funding

Picture not related to story - Valles Caldera, Santa Fe National Park, New Mexico (source: flickr/ Larry Lamsa, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 16 Aug 2018

A pilot-scale project of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology has won funding of $200k for geothermal membrane distillation for large scale-use.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced that 16 entities will receive $3.5 million for laboratory and pilot-scale research projects as part of the Desalination and Water Purification Research Program. The DWPR Program works with Reclamation researchers and partners to develop more innovative, cost-effective and technologically efficient ways to desalinate water.

“Desalination is an increasingly important source of water for Western communities” Commissioner Burman said. “Investing in innovative technologies to make desalination more affordable and energy-efficient will help many communities across the United States.”

Nine laboratory projects and seven pilot-scale projects were selected for funding. A laboratory-scale study is typically a bench scale study involving small flow rates. They are used to determine the viability of a novel process, new materials, or process modifications. Research at this stage often involves a high degree of risk and uncertainty.

A pilot-scale project tests a novel process at a sufficiently large scale to determine the technical, practical, and economic viability of the process and are generally preceded by laboratory studies that demonstrate if that the technology works. The $3.5 million will be matched with $4.8 million in non-federal funding.

One of the pilot-scale projects chosen is a Geothermal membrane distillation for large-scale use at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, which received  $200,000 in funding.

“Membrane distillation is reported for the first time in the literature being used to desalinate geothermal brackish groundwater for industrial greenhouse applications. Asymmetric hollow fiber membranes were fabricated and characterized for their direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) application to provide irrigation water at Masson Greenhouse, New Mexico.” (source: LiebertPub)

Source: Official release