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Desalination without pressure or membranes

By Gerald Ondrey |

After a nine-month field demonstration at BTX, Inc.’s Sleepy well site in Indiana, Pa., Altela Inc.’s (Albuquerque, N.M.; www.altelainc.com) AltelaRain 4000 water desalination system has been shown to turn Marcellus Shale wastewater into distilled water. The demonstration, funded by the U.S. Dept. Of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL; Pittsburgh, Pa.; www.netl.doe.gov), showed that 77% of the water stream can be treated onsite, and the average treated water cost per barrel was approximately 20% lower compared to previous total conventional disposal costs at the site. The system also significantly reduced the need for trucking wastewater from the site. The AltelaRain system is based on thermal distillation, which desalinates and decontaminates brackish and polluted water by mimicking nature’s way to make rain water. The system consists of a tower containing chambers separated by a thermally conductive, water-impermeable plastic sheet. On one side of the sheet, brackish water falls through the chamber and is evaporated by a cross flow of air. The water from the saturated air then condenses on the other side of the plastic, with the energy of condensation transferred across the plastic to heat…
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