Saltworks Joins Yale, EPRI, and Oak Ridge National Labs in NAWI Research
Project to focus on lowering industrial water re-use costs
December 9th 2021
Saltworks is excited to announce that it is part of a new National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) research team that includes Yale University, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The team is advancing a project to improve water recovery in membrane brine concentrators, building on Saltworks’ expertise in delivering ultra-high water recovery plants for industrial clients. Today, Saltworks is already boosting the industry standard 80% membrane system recovery to over 98% recovery on scaling industrial flows, enabling a step-change in cost and energy reduction for downstream thermal concentrators and crystallizers. The team’s research was proposed collaboratively, based on Saltworks’ customer-driven R&D.
The project will be led by Menachem Elimelech, Sterling Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University. Prof. Elimelech is one of the world’s leading experts in membrane-based desalination having authored more than 450 refereed journal publications, including articles in Science and Nature. Other expert leaders on the project include Prof. Minjiang Zhong (Yale) and Dr. Vyacheslav Bryantsev (Oak Ridge).
“Saltworks has seen extraordinary demand for its high recovery solutions,” said Saltworks’ COO, Joshua Zoshi. “We offer commercial systems today but are an innovation firm at our core. We are therefore thrilled to be working with leading experts on this important NAWI project. If successful, the outcomes will benefit the desalination and industrial wastewater treatment industries as a whole.”
The National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) brings together a world-class team of industry and academic partners to examine the critical technical barriers and research needed to radically lower the cost and energy of desalination. NAWI is funded by the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office to address barriers to desalination.
Saltworks Technologies is a leader in the development and delivery of solutions for industrial wastewater treatment and desalination. By working with customers to understand their unique challenges and focusing on continuous innovation, Saltworks’ solutions provide best-in-class performance and reliability on challenging waters. From its headquarters in Richmond, BC, Canada, Saltworks designs, builds, and operates full-scale treatment plants, and offers comprehensive offsite and onsite testing services with its fleet of mobile pilots.
The many options for managing brine, a term for saline wastewater from industrial processes, fall under two categories: brine treatment and brine disposal. Brine treatment involves desalinating the brine for reuse and producing a concentrated brine (lower liquid waste volume), or residual solids (zero liquid discharge).
Treating RO brine should be approached from two directions. First, maximize the recovery of lower cost membrane systems to minimize the volume for later steps. Second, weigh brine disposal options against thermal treatment technology to determine whether you need to concentrate your brine or treat it down to solids.
RO recovery and RO brine concentration are limited by osmotic pressures or membrane scaling; both limits have been increased by new technologies. A series of techniques described here can be used to delay or mitigate scale, but in many cases only chemical softening truly removes risk.
Reverse osmosis-based brine concentrators are reaching new performance levels not seen before. Saltworks is pleased to report that a substantial pilot plant is currently demonstrating 99% freshwater recovery on cooling tower blowdown (CTB).