Industrial water treatment for:
- Oil and gas extraction companies
- Power production companies
- Inland wastewater or brine generating companies
The water-energy co-dependence requires the use of renewable energy sources for wastewater treatment and clean water production. Wastewater (or brine) disposal expenses are substantial and environmental regulations on disposal are becoming more stringent. The increased use of desalination to meet water demands and emerging wastewater regulations toward zero liquid discharge warrants the evaluation of different technologies for brine management and disposal. Current treatment methods such as membrane technology, thermal technology, physical separation, and chemical treatment are used to process wastewater. However, these technologies are capital-intensive, expensive to maintain and rely on high-grade energy (electricity and high temperature heat) to produce clean water.
Researchers at Berkeley Laboratory have developed a novel system that uses solar energy to make wastewater treatment more environmentally friendly and sustainable, as well as more cost-effective. This system combines an advanced forward osmosis membrane technology with Berkeley Lab’s recyclable ionic liquid-based draw solute chemistry.
Berkeley Lab’s technology is thermally-responsive, so when combined with photonic heaters, the system directly absorbs solar energy to drive the regeneration process to obtain clean water from wastewater. The ionic liquids also contain anion-cation pairs that have a low critical solution temperature, allowing the ionic liquids to be fully miscible with water until their critical temperature, beyond which they become immiscible and separate into water and ionic liquid phases. The large osmotic strength of these ionic liquids forces a net flow of water across the membrane, and separates the water from contaminants.
This system has advantages over using reverse osmosis for higher salinity wastewater and enables a more energy efficient and cost-effective treatment of wastewater using solar energy.
- Ability to treat highly contaminated wastewater of different compositions
- Significantly lowers the cost of treating wastewater
- Modular system with small footprint
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proof of concept
IP STATUS: Patent pending.
OPPORTUNITY: Available for licensing/available for collaborative research
PUBLICATION: Solar Desalination Using Thermally Responsive Ionic Liquids Regenerated with a Photonic Heater, Andrew Z. Haddad, Akanksha K. Menon, Hyungmook Kang, Jeffrey J. Urban, Ravi S. Prasher, and Robert Kostecki, Environmental Science & TechnologyArticle ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c06232
RELATED TECHNOLOGIES: https://ipo.lbl.gov/lbnl2015-045/