Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Desalination roadmap seeks technological solutions

Resumen en español abajo

After one last meeting in San Antonio in April, Sandia National Laboratories researchers Pat Brady and Tom Hinkebein are putting the final touches on the updated Desalination and Water Purification Roadmap — “Roadmap 2” — that should result in more fresh water in parts of the world where potable water is scarce.

The updated roadmap is the result of three previous meetings — two in San Diego and one in Tampa — and the last held in April where many government agency, national laboratory, university, and private partners gathered to map out the future of desalination in the U.S. The first Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap (Roadmap) submitted to US Congress in 2003 was developed by the Bureau of Reclamation (US Department of the Interior) and Sandia National Laboratories as a strategic pathway for future desalination and water purification research so that desalination technologies might “contribute significantly to ensuring a safe, sustainable, affordable, and adequate water supply for the United States.”

Brady expects the second roadmap to be completed shortly, and the Joint Water Reuse & Desalination Task Force will then submit it to Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Congress and eventually the water user and research communities. The task force consists of the Bureau of Reclamation, the WaterReuse Foundation, the American Water Works Association Research Foundation, and Sandia.

The roadmap will recommend specific areas of potential water desalination research and development that may lead to technological solutions to water shortage problems.

Population growth in the U.S. is expected to increase 13.6 percent per decade [over the next two decades],” says Hinkebein, manager of Sandia’s Geochemistry Department and head of Sandia’s Advanced Concepts Desalination Group. “There will be 29 percent more of us in 20 years. Put that together with an unequal distribution of people — more moving to Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico where fresh water is limited — and it is easy to see we are facing a challenging water future.”

Sandia is a laboratory of the National Nuclear Security Administration of the United States.

Only 0.5 percent of Earth’s water is directly suitable for human consumption. The rest is composed of saltwater or locked up in glaciers and icecaps. As the world’s population grows, the increased water demand will have to come from someplace. Brackish water seems to be a natural source, Hinkebein says.

Roadmap 2 will outline the specific research needed in high-impact areas to create more fresh water from currently undrinkable brackish water, from seawater, and from wastewater. It will ensure that different organizations are not duplicating research.

Water desalination is not a new concept. In the U.S., the largest plants are in El Paso and Tampa. It is also commonplace in other parts of the world. Except for the Middle East, most desalination is done through reverse osmosis.

Brady says 43 research areas have been tentatively identified and some projects are already under way, jump started with $2 million made available for the preliminary research through a matching grant from the California Department of Water Resources. California provided $1 million and members of the Joint Water Reuse and Desalination Task Force each contributed $250,000.

Another $4 million in fiscal years 2004, 2005, and 2006 through federal Energy and Water Development Appropriations bills secured by Domenici has also funded desalination research at Sandia.

The task force will decide which of the 43 projects get to the top of the research pile,” Brady says. “As more money is made available, universities, research groups, national laboratories, and private companies will bid on projects.”

Among the 43 research areas included in Roadmap 2 will be:

• Membrane technologies (mainly reverse osmosis) that desalinate and purify water by pushing it through a semipermeable membrane that removes contaminants.
• Alternative technologies that take advantage of nontraditional methods.
• Concentrate management technologies that consider the disposal and/or beneficial use of desalination waste streams.
• Reuse/recycling technologies that look at ways membrane and alternative technologies can be used to more efficiently recycle water.

Much of the research could be conducted at the soon-to-be-completed Tularosa Basin National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo.


Sandia National Labs: Desalination and Water Purification home page

Desalination Directory Online.

Spain seeks bids on 82 million euro desalination plant
Spain's state-owned water company Acuamed said on Friday it was seeking offers from companies interested in building an 82 million euro (US$103 million) desalination plant in Almeria in southeastern Spain. The tender is to build and operate the plant for 15 years.
The plant is one of nine that Acuamed, part of the Environment Ministry, plans to put out to tender by the end of June, and will provide water for irrigation and for human consumption. It is part of a plan to build 26 desalination plants between 2005 and 2009 to ease water shortages along Spain's Mediterranean coast. Spain suffered the worst drought on record in the 2004/2005 hydrological year. Reuters/Planet Ark_ 5/1/06

"The night skies over Spain's forests glow orange with deadly wildfires. Cracked mud-flats border shrinking waterways. Fish lie stranded on the dry beds of lakes and rivers.../...Spain's reservoirs were filled to just 45 per cent of capacity as of August 7, and in one case to 13 per cent, approaching the point at which only unusable sludge remains.../...In Spain, where farmers face watering restrictions of up to 60 per cent, the cereal crop is set to be 17 per cent lower than the average over the past five years.../...Spanish farmers are planting fewer thirsty crops such as wheat, corn and rice and, in the parched province of Valencia, are digging up small trees to sell for ornamental use.../...With forests dry as tinder, thousands of hectares of trees have fallen prey to fire in Portugal and Spain. One hundred fires raged in northern Spain this week, killing at least three people.../...Spain's environment ministry says at least 80 per cent of water used for agriculture is wasted. The sector consumes about 75 per cent of the country's water – double the average in the EU – but accounts for only 5 per cent of gross domestic product." From Drought-stricken Europe verging on 'natural disaster' Financial Times. Aug. 6, 2006

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El "Roadmap" USA de la Desalación busca soluciones tecnológicas

Después de una última reunión en San Antonio en Abril, los investigadores de los Sandia National Laboratories, Pat Brady y Tom Hinkebein están dando los últimos toques a la versión actualizada del Desalination and Water Purification Roadmap — “Roadmap 2” — que debe proporcionar más agua fresca en aquellas partes del mundo donde escasea el agua potable.

El roadmap actualizado es el resultado de tres reuniones anteriores — dos en San Diego y una en Tampa — y la última mantenida en Abril en que se reunieron representantes de organismos gubernamentales, laboratorios nacionales, universidades y socios privados para delinear el futuro de la desalación en los Estados Unidos. El primer Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap (Roadmap) enviado al Congreso USA en 2003 fue desarrollado por el Bureau of Reclamation (US Department of the Interior) y Sandia National Laboratories como un itinerario estratégico para la investigación en la futura desalación y purificación del agua para que las tecnologías de desalación puedan “contribuir significativamente a asegurar un suministro de agua adecuado, asquible, seguro y sostenible para los Estados Unidos”

Brady espera que el segundo roadmap esté concluido pronto, y el Joint Water Reuse & Desalination Task Force lo remitirá al senador Pete Domenici, presidente del Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, al Congreso y posiblemente a entidades investigadoras y usuarias del agua. El grupo de trabajo está formado por Bureau of Reclamation, la WaterReuse Foundation, la American Water Works Association Research Foundation, y Sandia.

Sandia es un laboratorio de la National Nuclear Security Administration de los Estados Unidos

Entre los 43 campos de investigación incluidos en el Roadmap 2 estarán:

  • Tecnologías de membrana (principalmente ósmosis inversa)
  • Tecnologías alternativas que aprovechen ventajas de métodos atípicos
  • Tecnologías de gestión que consideren la eliminación y el uso beneficioso de los residuos de la desalación
  • Reutilización y reciclado que contemplen formas de utilización de las tecnologías de membrana y alternativas más eficientes para reciclar agua.


Programa AGUA Ministerio de Medio Ambiente. (WATER Programme - Ministry of Environment)

Asociación Española de Desalación y Reutilización

III International Symposium on Transboundary Water Management Ciudad Real. SPAIN. May 30-June 2, 2006. Universidad de Castilla – La Mancha.

Siguen algunos artículos de DYNA (Revista de los Ingenieros Industriales) Número de Enero-Febrero 2005 que se pueden descargar en formato pdf.

ENTREVISTA Cristina Narbona, Ministra de Medio Ambiente. Pág. 6.

El proceso de la desalación Luis-Manuel Tomás Balibrea, Manuel Latorre Carrión y Carlos Vicente Caballero Pág. 9.

El período seco 1980-95. Su rareza y efectos en el sureste español José Ramón Témez Peláez Pág. 11.

El programa A.G.U.A., El trasvase del Ebro y la nueva cultura del agua.Revista Obras Públicas, oct 2004. Pág. 15.

Descripción del funcionamiento de la desaladora de agua de mar del Canal de Alicante. Carlos Vicente Caballero Pág. 20.

Desalación nuclear. Hycham Basta. Pág. 42.

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