Assistant Professor Jovan Kamcev was recently awarded funding from the Bureau of Reclamation Desalination and Water Purification Research Program (DWRP).
The $250,000 award will allow Kamcev and industrial partner SUEZ to accelerate the development of membranes for brine treatment through the process of electrodialysis, an electrochemical technology that uses ion-selective membranes to separate ions from water.
“I am grateful for the support from the Bureau of Reclamation DWRP program, and I am very excited to work on this challenging project,” Kamcev explained. “I am especially excited to work with SUEZ to accelerate the development of these membranes.”
Brine management is a growing issue accompanying water desalination and is sometimes referred to as the “Achilles’ heel of desalination.” Approximately half of the water that is treated in a reverse osmosis desalination plant is returned as a concentrated brine that is costly to manage and dispose of.
Electrodialysis is a promising technology for further concentrating the brine waste from desalination plants and extracting additional low salinity water. Subsequent treatment of the concentrated brine waste via crystallization yields solid minerals that can be used for a variety of industrial applications, making the byproduct of brine waste valuable. Currently available membranes for electrodialysis exhibit poor performance when contacted by brines, which limits the efficiency of the process. This project will focus on developing next-generation membranes that retain their selectivity and throughput when contacted by brines.
DWPR funding plays a critical role in leading innovations from the lab to real-world applications that reduce the costs and environmental impacts of treating impaired and unusable waters.
Jovan Kamcev has been an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan since 2019. He is a recipient of the North American Membrane Society Young Membrane Scientist Award and the U.S. Department Of Energy Early Career Research Award. His research aims to develop next-generation polymeric materials such as membranes and sorbents for water treatment and energy storage/generation applications.