Brewer and Foudazi receive $224,243 from WRRI

Catherine E. BrewerDr. Catherine Brewer has been funded by the Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI) for her proposal entitled, “Biochar for Desalination Concentrate Management.”  Total funding provided for this project is $74,377.

Alternative Waters Problem: Disposal of concentrate from brackish water desalination is limited by concerns of salt leaching into and contaminating surface and ground waters. These concerns, and measures to prevent leaching, add substantially to concentrate disposal costs with little or no opportunity to recover those costs. One option being explored is the use of concentrate as irrigation water for producing halophyte biomass for forage and other applications. Continuing development of this option requires more knowledge of what happens to the salt in the concentrate once land applied as irrigation water. The purpose of this project is to determine how much of the salt taken up by the halophyte crops can be protected from leaching by pyrolysis of the biomass, i.e. to determine the potential of sequestering salt in mineral form. Results from this research will be useful for those managing high salinity biomass streams, such as halophyte crop wastes and animal manures, and those seeking local concentrate disposal options with a potential for producing economic and/or environmental returns. The ability to sequester salt in biochar would decrease the negative impacts of land-applying high- salinity materials, including those used in desalination concentrate management systems.

Reza FoudaziDr. Reza Foudazi has also been funded by WRRI for his project entitled, “In-situ synthesis of antibacterial ultrafiltration and microfiltration membranes with controllable pore size” in the amount of $149,866.

Statement of Alternative Water Problem: The priority focus of this proposal is developing innovative technologies for water treatment. Through a Tier 1 proof of concept project, we have shown that self-assembled block copolymers can be used as templates to produce ultrafiltration (UF) membranes with improved permeability over conventional ones.1 In addition, the methodology provides a more eco-friendly alternative to current membrane fabrication methods, which require organic solvents.1 The main goal of the current proposal is to develop a method for producing antibacterial ultrafiltration (UF) and microfiltration (MF) membranes. Bio-fouling is a common problem found in membrane filtration as proteins, bacteria, and viruses accumulate on the surface of membranes.2 Currently, chlorination is utilized in municipal water systems to remove tiny microorganisms and bacteria.2 However, harmful disinfection byproducts produced during the chlorination process have raised concerns and motivated exploration of other disinfection agents.3 Therefore, if combined with disinfection, ultrafiltration and microfiltration can transform not only the municipal water treatment, but also the treatment of wastewater containing harmful microorganisms and bacteria due to their high flux rate and efficiency. In recent years, antibacterial membranes have attracted industrial and academic interests for the bacteria and microorganisms removal from water.4,5 Conventionally, antibacterial membranes are prepared through surface modification, but most surface modification routes are limited to specific types of membranes. Furthermore, these routes require the use of complex and often expensive chemical reactions to graft antibacterial groups onto the surface, making the final product costly. We are proposing in-situ synthesis of antibacterial UF and MF membranes from functionalized monomers via templates of self-assembled block copolymers. Developed membranes in this work can be scaled-up for industrial purposes as well as adapted in small portable units for production in rural areas and small communities.


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