The University of Texas at El Paso’s (UTEP) College of Engineering recently was awarded half of a $1.3 million grant by the Bureau of Reclamation to advance water treatment research. Reverse osmosis is the most common method of desalination. Bureau commissioner Michael Connor announced that the money will be allocated to five research and laboratory study facilities, one pilot test and one demonstration project under the Desalination and Water Purification Program.

UTEP received $500,000 to conduct the demonstration project, and $150,000 for a research project.“ Innovative solutions will be needed to address the growing water and energy needs in the West,” Connor says. “These grants will help find new technologies to treat water more efficiently and with less energy to meet those future demands.”

UTEP’s Center for Inland Desal-ination Systems (CIDS) will conduct a demonstration of zero discharge desalination at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamagordo, N.M. “What we hope to accomplish is to boost the amount of available drinking water from brackish water, at the same time minimizing waste stream for maximum efficiency,” explains Malynda Cappelle, senior engineering project manager for CIDS. According to Cappelle, the research will open new doors to expand the availability of drinkable water in the desert region.

Additionally, Anthony Tarquin, UTEP professor in environmental engineering, will use $150,000 to research high-water volume recovery for silica saturated reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate using a batch-treatment seawater RO system, another method of extracting clean drinking water.