International fouling research makes progress in Israel

Pilot facilities to produce ~120 m³/d of desalinated water at sites in Israel and in Jordan are to be set up researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, as part of developing a novel method for achieving very high recoveries in desalination by reverse osmosis (RO).

Working in collaboration with colleagues from University of Colorado and the Hashemite University of Jordan, the group will be looking to scale up the technology for use in a Jordanian desalination plant.

The team, lead by Dr Jack Gilron of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) and Prof Eli Korin of the Department of Chemical Engineering, has developed a method of exploiting the finite kinetics of membrane fouling processes by periodically changing the conditions leading to membrane fouling before it can occur. The team was recently awarded grants from the NATO Science for Peace program and the Middle East Desalination Research Center.

According to Dr Gilron, “The process will be tuned to reduce brine volumes to 33-50% of those generated in conventional RO. This greatly reduces the environmental burden and improves the economics of the inland desalination process. Water scarcity and the need to develop new water resources for populations not on the sea coasts are driving efforts to desalinate brackish water and municipal wastewater with ever-increasing efficiencies.”

Related to the above development, BGN Technologies – the University’s technology transfer company and the ATI (Ashkelon Technology Incubator) Cleantech Group have established a new company, ROTEC (Reverse Osmosis Technologies) to commercialize the technology. Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, selected ROTEC as one of a handful of promising companies in which it invests R&D funding to help promote novel water treatment technologies worldwide and in Israel.