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eNews September 2019

NMSU Student Receives NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant

By Marcus Gay, NM WRRI Student Program Coordinator

In June 2019, Juliano Penteado de Almeida, a graduate student in the NMSU Department of Civil Engineering, received an NM WRRI Student Water Research Grant entitled, Enhanced Water Recovery and Membrane Scaling Mitigation for Desalination Using Innovative Electromagnetic Field (EMF) and 3D Printed Open Flow Channel Membranes. The award was funded through the cooperative agreement between Reclamation and NMSU, Center for the Development and Use of Alternative Water Supplies. Juliano is working under the guidance of his faculty advisor Dr. Pei Xu, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at NMSU.

Depletion of fresh water resources, chronic droughts, growing population, and urbanization has increased the need for developing alternative water sources. Desalination of brackish groundwater provides opportunities to enhance water security by converting saline water into drinkable water. Given the growing demand for alternative water sources, there is a pressing need for more effective and less expensive desalination methods.

The objective of this project is to develop an innovative High Recovery Reverse Osmosis (HRRO) system to treat brackish groundwater which is a critical water source, and provides a reliable, drought-resistant alternative water supply to address water shortages in arid and semiarid regions including New Mexico and the southwestern United States. The HRRO is expected to significantly reduce chemical demands, operational costs, energy, and negative environmental impacts.

The research for this project is being developed at the Environmental Laboratory at NMSU. Testing of the innovative HRRO process is planned to take place in Santa Teresa, NM, which is experiencing drastically reduced surface water supplies, declining groundwater quality and quantity, and the cumulative effects of more than a decade of drought conditions.

“We have been running experiments that are demonstrating the effectiveness of EMF to produce drinkable water using less chemicals than conventional systems. The results are very promising and we are very excited with this research,” explains Juliano. At the 64th Annual New Mexico Water Conference in November 2019, Juliano will be presenting his research during the poster session.

Juliano received a BS in Civil Engineering, a Specialist Diploma in Environmental Management, and an MS in Sanitary and Environmental Engineering from the State University of Ponta Grossa, located in his home country of Brazil. Juliano expects to complete his studies at NMSU and graduate with a PhD in Civil Engineering in May of 2021. After graduation, Juliano plans on continuing his research on desalination and its water security applications, an area he believes is essential to sustainability.