Desalination paper wins student NWRI/SCSC fellowship

A paper on the use of nanostructed polymers in desalination has won a California student a two- year US$ 10,000 fellowship from the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) and the Southern California Salinity Coalition (SCSC).

The purpose of the NWRI-SCSC fellowship is to support graduate research that addresses the critical need to remove or reduce salts from water supplies and to preserve water resources in Southern California.

Kari Varin, a first-year doctoral student in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), received the fellowship based on the merit of her graduate research project on Water Desalination by Reverse Osmosis (RO) with Nanostructured Polymers.

The focus of this project is to develop high-performance membranes based on surface nano-structuring via atmospheric pressure plasma-induced surface graft polymerization, which will be integrated with the interfacial polymerization method of synthesizing thin-film composite membranes.

The goal is to advance the science and engineering needed to allow RO water desalination plants to operate at higher recovery without resorting to mineral scalents or other feed chemical additives, while reducing mineral scaling and biofouling propensity, resulting in lower costs for desalted water.

SCSC was founded in 2002 by a group of Southern California water and wastewater agencies to better manage salinity in the area’s water supplies. Member agencies include the Eastern Municipal Water District, Inland Empire Utilities Agency, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Orange County Sanitation District, Orange County Water District, San Diego County Water Authority, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority and West Basin Municipal Water District. NWRI administers SCSC on behalf of its members.