July 15, 2009

Portable desalination system is created

U.S. engineers say they've developed a portable water desalination system that can substantially reduce the costs and time involved in producing clean water.

The UCLA researchers said their new mini-mobile-modular smart water desalination and filtration system called M3 also provides an all-in-one mobile testing plant that can be used to test nearly any water source.

The advantages of this type of system are that it can cut costs, and because it is mobile, only one M3 system needs to be built to test multiple sources, said Alex Bartman, a graduate student on the M3 team.

The M3 demonstrated its effectiveness in a recent field study in California's San Joaquin Valley in which it desalted agricultural drainage water that was nearly saturated with calcium sulfate salts, accomplishing the desalination with just one reverse osmosis stage.

In this specific field study by our team, in the first part of the reverse osmosis process, 65 percent of the water that was fed in was recovered as drinking water, or potable water, said Professor Yoram Cohen, who led the study. We can potentially go up to 95 percent recovery using an accelerated chemical demineralization process that was also developed here at UCLA.

Bartman said M3 could also be deployed to produce fresh water in emergency situations for up to 6,000 to 12,000 people daily.