By Grant Page
The situation is more dire than we think
Today, 785 million people1 are impacted by the water crisis globally, with 22 million in the United States alone. Recent studies(2) have confirmed that, at the current water consumption rate, these numbers will only increase with time. In the US, reliance upon aquifers has not only depleted their levels significantly, but has also resulted in increased salination and contamination. While regions of the world (such as Cape Town, South Africa) garner headlines with severe drought conditions at 26 percent capacity(3), California is not far behind, with Los Angeles named the ninth city(4) on the Nature Conservancy’s water-stressed list.
Desalination with minimal energy
The common criticism of large-scale desalination efforts like reverse osmosis, which have proven effective in high recovery of large volumes of water, is that it takes a tremendous amount of energy to process. The key is identifying energy-efficient and cost-efficient ways to treat water on a broader scale. How is this possible? The creation of energy can actually be attained by using dissimilar electrodes, which is one of the key elements to the process now known as electrochemical nano diffusion or END®. This technology is capable of ultra-high-water efficiency with minimum energy consumption.
How does END work?
END is a transformation of the long-established electrodialysis reversal (EDR) process with the ability to attain significantly stronger desalination performance in terms of energy efficiency, recovery and cost. It is an electrochemically driven desalination process that incorporates highly advanced membrane spacers, electrodes and membrane chemistry. (Membrane spacers are a combination of materials and geometry that optimize electric and hydraulic resistance in between the membranes to provide a lower overall energy consumption.) This allows for the separation of salts, metals and other charged species, yet does so while significantly reducing energy and improving recovery performance.
Diffusion of salts occurs across each layer in the membrane stack, based on the electric potential applied to the process. This allows salts and other charged contaminants to pass through the membrane into the brine stream where they can be highly concentrated yet remain in solution. The technology is also completely modular, comprised of building blocks, or stacks, so the scalable solution can multiply in size to address high volumes of treatment demand (see Figure 1).
END has established new benchmarks in terms of energy efficiency and recovery for desalination technology, treating water containing up to 200,000 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids with the capability of producing boiler-feedwater quality. This range is an exceptional representation of how advanced the technology is and what it can provide for a variety of industries. With regard to electrode fouling, it utilizes an isolated electrolyte stream to prevent electrode contamination, which along with the reversal feature maintains high reliability. Validated in 2018 by the University of Texas-El Paso, with direct comparison to competitive technology(5), multiple customer installations have since validated performance with recoveries ranging from 95 to 98 percent and projected ROI as short as 14 months (see Figure 2).
What makes it different?
There are several defining features that make this technology unique from other leading desalination solutions:
Timing. Streamlined manufacturing of END allows for a one-million-GPD system to be implemented in as little as four months’ time. Through rapid response to customer’s water treatment needs, this process guarantees a dependable, cleaner water treatment that gets the most out of every drop.
Efficiency. It is up to 99-percent efficient in terms of clean-water recovery, while consuming up to 50-percent less energy than other solutions. In fact, given its minimal usage of energy, END has the ability to operate off-grid via alternative sources such as solar, wind or even battery power.
Cost. Usage requires low, up-front capital costs, with the options of leasing or water-as-a-service. Moreover, in the long run, using it costs half as much as other desalination processes due to low chemical usage, robust components and long membrane life. Using less energy also contributes to providing an affordable solution to desalinate water. These factors are all incredibly important as the process works to enable solutions for the water crisis, an urgent matter for the environment, industry and humanity.
How will this technology impact the current global water crisis?
Advanced technologies can provide guaranteed clean water in half the time using half the energy, at efficient cost. As many parts of the world struggle with the affordability of clean water, scalable solutions can positively impact developing nations, salinity control in aquifers, industry water usage and costs and more.
(1) The Water Crisis. https://water.org/our-impact/water-crisis/
(2) Water Scarcity. https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/water-scarcity
(3) Cape Town is running out of water: Are U.S. cities next? https://www.curbed.com/2018/ 2/16/17013532/cape-town-water-crisis-drought
(4) Water on an urban planet: Urbanization and the reach of urban water infrastructure. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378014000880
(5) Kirimi, L. Abkar, M. Aghajani, A. Ghassemi. “Technical feasibility comparison of off-grid PV-EDR and PV-RO desalination systems via their energy consumption.” Separation and Purification Technology. 151 (2015) 92-94
About the author
Grant Page is Founder, Chairman and CEO of Magna Imperio Systems (MIS) Corp. and Founder and President of The Page Family Foundation Inc., whose missions are to enable sustainable solutions to solve the world’s water crisis through development and implementation of innovative technology and services. He has ambitiously taken on the task of solving this crisis in the interest of billions of people who struggle without access to potable water. Page’s patented END water treatment process, which MIS has advanced and commercialized as the world’s most energy-efficient and highest recovery desalination system, focuses on Maximum Recovery Minimum Energy™ to make far-reaching and lasting impacts around the world. With these combined efforts, his core goal is to impact over two billion lives in over 180 countries within our childrens’ lifetimes. Page is reinventing the treatment and purification of water with environmentally responsible operations, a dedicated workforce and extraordinarily high ethical standards to truly be the driving force in the world necessary to achieve the change he envisions. He has fully dedicated his life to saving the world, one drop at a time.