Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have recently been awarded grants from the NATO Science for Peace programme and the Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) to scale up a method for achieving high recovery rates of pure water in desalination processes based on reverse osmosis.
The team, lead by Dr Jack Gilron of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) and Prof Eli Korin of the Department of Chemical Engineering, has developed a method of periodically changing the process conditions that lead to membrane fouling, preventing it from occuring. Membrane fouling is the single largest cause of reducing the efficiency of such systems.
Working in collaboration with colleagues from Colorado University and the Hashemite University of Jordan, the group will now set up pilot facilities to produce around 20m3 per day of water at desalination sites in Israel and Jordan.
Gilron said: 'The [new] process will be tuned to reduce the volume of brine in the water by 50 per cent to 33 per cent less than that generated in conventional systems. This greatly reduces the environmental burden and improves the economics of the desalination process.'
Water scarcity and the need to develop water resources for populations not on the sea coasts are driving efforts to desalinate brackish water and municipal wastewater with ever-increasing efficiencies, he added.
BGN Technologies – the university’s technology-transfer company – and the Ashkelon Technology Incubator (ATI) Cleantech Group have established a startup company, called ROTEC (Reverse Osmosis Technologies), to commercialise the technology and bring it to the market.
Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, has already chosen ROTEC as one of a handful of companies in which it invests to help promote novel water treatment technologies.
For more information on ROTEC, please click here.