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Enhanced Solar Desalination Using Innovative Approaches for Concentrate Treatment and Energy Recovery

04-28-2020 - New Mexico State University (NMSU, Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, New Mexico) proposes a research and laboratory study project in response to Bureau of Reclamation’s 2019 FOA (BOR-DO-19-F001). The project entitled “Enhanced Solar Desalination Using Innovative Approaches for Concentrate Treatment and Energy Recovery”, will be directed by Dr. Sarada Kuravi with co-principal investigators Drs. Krishna Kota, Pei Xu, Young-Ho Park, and Huiyao Wang. This project proposes passive, low-cost, scalable, and implementable approaches for increasing the output of a solar still by at least 15x compared to the conventional design. A solar still operates on the principles of heat transfer and by enhancing thermal transport in current stills, desalination and concentrate treatment can be achieved with reduced energy demand and costs. Four major novel aspects are planned to achieve the goal of this project: (1) augment the solar input and raise the water temperature using centralized mirror technology, (2) utilize Binary Surfaces (BiS) on the basin to reduce corrosion and scale formation and simultaneously cause ultra-rapid boiling of water (instead of evaporation which is very slow), (3) use a composite interfacial layer on the water surface that can further enhance the pure water production rate, and (4) employ an external condenser that also acts as a practicable secondary heat recovery and storage system. These novel and viable multidisciplinary engineering and science-centric elements will cumulatively contribute to achieving a rapidly increased fresh water production rate and waste heat recovery at high temperatures. The major outcomes of this project include: new low-cost technologies for concentrate treatment, laboratory test results (at NMSU), bench-scale testing results (at BGRNDF), comparison of the efficiency with the existing technologies (both RO and stills), and preliminary cost analysis. In collaboration with the National Institute of Technology- Karnataka in India, pilot scale testing and development of the proposed technology is planned to be proposed to DWPR, NSF, DOE in the US and through the SPARC collaboration opportunity in India. Minority and international students will be trained in an area of national and worldwide importance and technology commercialization of various sub-aspects will be pursued. We propose to build upon the knowledge and infrastructure developed in our collaborated projects to assess feasibility and bench scale demonstration of the proposed project. The objectives will be met by formulating a work plan based on nine tasks conducted in 18 months (January 2020 to June 2021). We are requesting a total of $150,000 federal fund and $150,000 of non-federal fund as cost share (50%) to conduct the laboratory scale project. The results of this study will provide a promising solution to address the scarcity of fresh water in arid and semi-arid Southwestern United States and in the economically-backward regions of rural India. The proposed project focuses on Reclamation’s following FY2019 solicited research priorities: