Desalination demonstration to tackle California’s agricultural drainage

Desalination technology is to be used in California’s Central Valley to convert high salinity agricultural drainage water into fresh water for irrigation and CO2-negative products derived from the waste salts.

Westlands Water District and Ag-Water New Sky LLC announced on 18 August 2010 that they will design and build a demonstration water treatment facility using salt-conversion technology developed by New Sky Energy of Boulder, Colorado.

The first phase of the project is due to be started in the second half of 2010 and when fully deployed, the US$ 3.2 million project will desalinate approximately 240,000 gpd (908 m³/d) of drainage water. It will then convert approximately 5 t of waste brine salts into chemicals such as acid, caustic soda and solid carbonates such as limestone and soda ash.

The project will trap approximately 2.8 t of CO2 daily.

New Sky Energy will work with Westlands through a joint-venture partner, Ag Water – New Sky LLC, to build and deploy the water treatment plant. Ag Water – New Sky will provide reverse-osmosis desalination equipment; New Sky will provide its carbon-negative electrochemical technology to process the waste brine stream generated by desalination. Westlands will provide the raw drainage water and use the clean water generated by the plant for irrigation.

“The desalination of Central Valley drainage water will typically produce 8- 10 t of solid waste per acre foot (1 acre foot = 1,233.6 m³) of water treated,” said Ron Smith, CEO of Ag Water – New Sky LLC. “With our advanced treatment systems and the New Sky Energy technology we will convert these solid waste materials to valuable agricultural and industrial commodities.”