Israeli BGU researchers to advance desalination technology through startup ROTEC

rotecOn 18 Aug 2009, the Jerusalem Post and Cleantech Group reported that new startup ROTEC plans to commercialize the technology out of Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of Israel that promises a faster, cheaper method of reverse-osmosis desalination to clean dirty groundwater.

The researchers at the BGU have recently been awarded grants from the NATO Science for Peace programme and the Middle East Desalination Research Center (MEDRC) to lead an international project to scale up a method for achieving high recovery rates of pure water in desalination processes based on reverse osmosis.

The team, led by Dr Jack Gilron of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) and Prof Eli Korin of the Department of Chemical Engineering, work in collaboration with Colorado University and the Hashemite University of Jordan and the group will now set up pilot facilities to produce around 20m3 per day (31,000 gallons) of water at desalination sites in Israel and Jordan. “NATO Science for Peace is a program run on an ongoing basis in which NATO tries to encourage cooperation between countries in the Mediterranean and the NATO alliance to advance science projects that could enhance peace and stability in the area,” said Gilron.

The team 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. Membrane fouling is the single largest cause of reducing the efficiency of such systems. Gilron said, “the process will be tuned to reduce the volume of brine in the water by 50% to 33% less than that generated in conventional systems. This greatly reduces the environmental burden and improves the economics of the desalination process.”

The new technology is cheaper because it reduces the quantity of brine that needs to be dealt with, as well as the amount of chemicals required in the desalination process. Gilron continues, “Water scarcity and the need to develop new water resources for populations not on the seacoasts are driving efforts to desalinate brackish water and municipal wastewater with ever-increasing efficiencies.”

The technology is being commercialized by a new startup, ROTEC (Reverse Osmosis Technologies), which is already been chosen by Israeli national water company Mekorot as a promising firm in which it will invest R&D funds. Mekorot supplies 80% of Israel’s drinking water and 70% of its entire water supply. ROTEC is established by BGN Technologies – the University’s technology transfer company and the ATI (Ashkelon Technology Incubator) Cleantech Group.

The researchers are among many trying to find more efficient and less costly methods of desalination.

Yale University spinout Oasys Water said earlier this year it developed a low-cost, low-energy desalination and purification technology for seawater, wastewater and industrial waste streams. The company said its forward-osmosis technology uses one-tenth the energy of conventional desalination systems.

Anaheim, Calif.-based cleantech incubator Catalyx also uses forward osmosis before employing the traditional reverse osmosis to purify heavily polluted wastewater from the textile and other industries. Catalyx says the result is low-cost and chemical-free.

About ROTEC:
Since its website is down, you can check out more details of ROTEC under ATI’s website here. It lists the technology and its competitive advantages; the market and potential users for the technology; and the team and contact details.

Israeli researchers start pilot for new desal technology
Desalination process
BGU scientists to advance desalination technology
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev technology being developed for use in Jordan desalination plant



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