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Home > Press > Oregon BEST Passes $2M Mark with Grant to Help Innovate Low-Energy Desalination Technology: Oregon startup taps OSU expertise to advance a microchannel technology that could cut desalination energy consumption in half and lead to distributed facilities
A commercialization grant from Oregon BEST is helping an Oregon startup collaborate with Oregon State University researchers to advance a desalination technology that could cut energy consumption associated with removing salt from seawater by 50 percent and boost potable water yields.
The technology could enable small, distributed desalination operations with the potential to eliminate the transport of potable water from current large-scale plants.
Traditional desalination technologies require large facilities for economically viable operation and are typically sited adjacent to centralized electric power due to energy demands.
Scalable implementation would allow facilities to be sized to localized water demand and take advantage of distributed renewable energy sources. Smaller plants would work well for agricultural use, low population density markets and developing nations lacking electric power infrastructure.
"Due to population growth, climate change and other factors, desalination is an enormous market with tremendous growth expectations," said Jeff Canin, CEO of MTEK Energy Solutions, the OSU spinout commercializing the technology.
The new technology uses a novel capacitive deionization process to move salt ions to the exterior of a series of microchannels while potable water flows through and exits the system.
"Both of the technologies currently used for desalination, thermal (evaporation) and reverse osmosis (forcing seawater through a membrane under extreme pressure) are high-energy consumption, with energy alone accounting for nearly half the operation costs of producing a gallon of water," said Jeff Canin, CEO of MTEK Energy Solutions. "Using our technology of microchannels and capacitive deionization, we believe we can significantly reduce the energy used in desalination and be able to deploy this technology at scales not possible with current technologies."
The $145,000 grant is enabling MTEK to work with Goran Jovanovic, an Oregon BEST researcher and OSU chemical engineering professor who co-directs the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute in Corvallis. Jovanovic will lead testing and development of a prototype of the technology, which has attracted the attention of CH2M HILL because of its potential scalability.
³CH2M HILL is a recognized leader in desalination technologies and application, so we continuously look for opportunities to help our clients manage their water resources in the most sustainable manner," said Bill Byers, VP and Technology Fellow for CH2M HILL's Water Business Group. "The United Arab Emirates, one of the biggest regions for applying desalination technologies, is introducing a new law that will rationalize water and energy use by the end of this year. The technology MTEK is developing, should it prove out in bench and pilot testing, will go a long way to help manage the water-energy nexus and make desalination an even more cost-effective and sustainable treatment technology.²
In addition to the energy savings and scalability, MTEK officials say another benefit of the technology is a higher ratio of potable water to high-salt brine, a byproduct of desalination that must to be disposed of.
³As the availability of potable water becomes more and more of a global issue, we're proud to help this university-industry team advance a technology that could be the basis of a viable solution,² said David Kenney, President and Executive Director or Oregon BEST. ³MTEK is a great example of a university spinout poised to create economic impact in Oregon and around the world.²
The company previously received a Gap Grant from the Oregon Nanoscience & Microtechnologies Center (ONAMI).
This grant marks $2 million in Commercialization Grants that Oregon BEST has awarded since 2011 to speed commercialization of the state¹s most promising clean technologies being developed by university researchers and private businesses.
About MTEK Energy Solutions
MTEK Energy Solutions, based in Corvallis, Oregon, was founded to commercialize innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies developed by Oregon State University researchers. The company's current primary focus is on the development and marketing of a low-energy scalable desalination design, based on capacitive deionization principles.
About Oregon BEST oregonbest.org
The Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center (Oregon BEST) is the nexus for clean technology innovation, building capability, convening collaborations, and accelerating solutions to environmental challenges that deliver prosperity in all corners of Oregon. Oregon BEST brings together Oregon¹s significant R&D strengths in clean technology to support the commercialization of new products and services. Since establishment in 2007, Oregon BEST¹s 220-plus Member Faculty have generated more than $90 million in research revenue from federal, industry and foundation sources to Oregon. At its four partner universities (Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Portland State University, and University of Oregon), Oregon BEST has established a network of seven shared-user research facilities. Oregon BEST Commercialization Grants are awarded to collaborations between entrepreneurs and Oregon BEST member faculty at partner universities.
For more information, please click here
Gregg Kleiner, 541-740-9654
Oregon State University
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