Technology Demonstration and Model Assessment of Fit-To-Use Water Availability from Selective Desalination of Impaired Water for Cooling Tower Operation

Project: Research project

Project Details


Under the direction of the Northwestern PI, Aaron Packman, and Argonne Investigator, Yupo Lin, a graduate student from the Packman group, Manvitha Marni, will work on the following project at Argonne.

R&D in water desalination technology: The cooling water quality in power plants depends strongly on the key constitutes in the sources. Selective separation remove the key saline constitutes selectively for the recycled water therefore reduces the energy consumption. Electrodeionization (EDI) offers the prospect of desalination with a low energy footprint. It is a modular technology based on electrically driven membrane separations platform and is capable of producing clean water fit for consumption and numerous industrial processes such as energy production, semiconductors, and pharmaceuticals. ANL’s resin wafer electrodeionization (RW-EDI) is developed from commercial EDI technology with higher energy efficient and better economic viability in producing portable water. A bench-scale RW-EDI has been demonstrated capable to desalinate brackish water (i.e., one of the sources of impaired water) with 90% water recovery at 0.70 kwh/m3 or ~ 30% energy efficiency. Advanced material design of the resin wafer can further reduce the energy consumption at least 50%, or more than 50% of energy efficiency. In-situ pH control of the process stream during desalination is a unique capability using the RW-EDI that enables low cost removal of “tough toxic impurities” in cooling system such as SiO2, PO4-2. Conventionally, these were removed by adding chemicals to adjust aqueous pH. These chemicals are the most frequent existing species in cooling water that limits the number of water recycle.

R&D in process mode for water-energy resource management: Because of the water scarcity that limits the use of surface water for cooling, water technology developed to handle nontraditional water for cooling faces economics, energy and implementation challenges. For example, to treat the nontraditional to fulfil current water withdrew for cooling in power industry it needs more than $ 265 B. dollars, 100 years and 3 million mile square of space to install new RO plants for desalination. Therefore, technology along cannot address the challenges for water-energy nexus. The extra energy and cost can be reduced if the limit water resource can be shared regionally. Establishing basic elements of process model is important to determine “fit-to-use” water that is available for distribute water supply.

Task 1 - Evaluate selective desalination of impaired water using RW-EDI technology: Determine energy consumption and processing performance of ion-specific desalination using RW-EDI. Based on the results, conduct literature search to assess potential impact of the treated water quality on corrosion and fouling in cooling tower.

Task 2 - Assessment the impacts of impaired water quality and its treatment performance on water efficiency of energy production: Identify potential key parameters from the correlations of impaired water quality and treatment performance that influence the water utilization efficiency in electric energy production. The student will use a preliminary smart grid model modified by water-energy interdependency network (WEIN) model developed in Argonne to perform the assessment.

1. Collect preliminary performance of selective desalination of simulated produced water.
2. Assess the impacts of cooling water properties (e.g., simulated produced water) and treatment performance on energy production in p
Effective start/end date6/16/176/30/18


  • UChicago Argonne, LLC, Argonne National Laboratory (Work Order No. 3J-30081-0067A)
  • Department of Energy (Work Order No. 3J-30081-0067A)


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