Dutch desalination research backed by American Water

American Water Works Company Inc, the largest investor-owned US water and wastewater utility, announced on 2 October 2009 that it is working in cooperation with Netherlands entities Vitens, RWB Waterservices, University of Twente and WE Consult to launch a project on innovation in desalination technology.

The Clean Operator project is co-funded by subsidiary SenterNovem and aims to reduce the costs, environmental impact and carbon footprint of desalination. The partners will develop new technologies for seawater desalination and the treatment of surface water and wastewater using reverse-osmosis membranes.

“Many desalination plants suffer from membrane fouling, and in some cases the membranes need frequent chemical cleaning, which increases operational costs and the emission of waste chemicals and carbon dioxide to the environment,” said Dr Mark LeChevallier, American Water’s director of innovation and environmental stewardship. “The goal of the Clean Operator project is to reduce operational costs through a sustainable operation resulting in cleaner membranes.”

With a budget of € 1.5-2 million for 2009-2011, the project will deliver operational technology for use in existing and new membrane plants. The fundamental research will be performed by the University of Twente, assisted by Vitens and WE Consult. RWB Waterservices and WE Consult will focus on the development of the new technology, while Vitens and American Water will concentrate on applying the technology in their water treatment plants.

This project is the first official partnership in American Water’s new Innovation Development Process, an initiative that leverages the company’s position and expertise to develop, test and produce new technologies for industry use.