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Pilot plant to demonstrate advanced vapor-compression desalination nears completion

By Scott Jenkins |

Researchers at Texas A&M University (College Station, Tex.; www.tamu.edu) are poised to complete assembly of a pilot project that seeks to demonstrate the commercial viability of advanced vapor-compression desalination, an updated version of a decades-old distillation technology first developed for naval vessels. The pilot unit is nearing completion in Laredo, Tex., where it will produce 50,000 gal/d of potable water from the brackish groundwater of the region. The technology was developed by Texas A&M chemical engineering professor Mark Holtzapple and research engineer Jorge Lara, and has been licensed to Terrabon Inc. (Houston; www.terrabon.com), which markets it as AdVE (advanced vapor compression evaporation) desalination. Like its ancestors, AdVE compresses steam generated by heating salt water. The compression step allows the steam to give up its latent heat of vaporization, as it condenses to freshwater. The heat captured from the compressed steam is used to generate additional steam from the feedwater. Process improvements developed by the Texas A&M team have made AdVE practical on a larger scale than its forebears. For example, Holtzapple developed a high-efficiency compressor that uses a gerotor-type (generated…
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