Tommy Weir ’21, Shawn Albertson ’21, Anna Letcher Hartman ‘22
Energy-efficient desalination and wastewater reuse
Desalination can help alleviate water scarcity, but current technologies use too much energy. Wastewater reuse requires less energy than seawater desalination, but significantly concentrating this water raises the risk of crystallization (scaling) on the membranes. We are developing a more energy-efficient water reuse technology by building and testing a cyclical reverse osmosis (RO) desalination system. By treating water in short cycles, rather than continuously, we hope that RO membranes can be used to purify scaling-prone wastewater using less energy.
As we strive to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, energy-efficient and reliable wastewater reuse technology may play a significant role in meeting the world’s freshwater needs.