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Concentrate Enhanced Recovery Reverse Osmosis (CERRO™)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Anthony Tarquin

One of the biggest obstacles to inland desalination projects is related to disposal of the large volume of concentrate that is generated in membrane desalting operations. It is especially difficult to recover additional water from the concentrate when it is saturated with silica. Previous work that was funded by the Texas Water Development Board and El Paso Water Utilities showed that a batch-treatment seawater reverse osmosis (RO) system (with appropriate pH control and antiscalant dosage) is capable of recovering up to 85% of the water from the silica-saturated RO concentrate generated at the Kay Bailey Hutchison (KBH) desalting plant in El Paso, TX, and at a unit water cost comparable to that of the main desalting plant. In October 2009, a project was funded by the Texas Water Development Board, the WateReuse Foundation, and El Paso Water Utilities for using a seawater RO system in a continuous-flow mode to determine the extent to which water can be recovered from the concentrate (with concomitant volume reduction) without fouling the membranes. It is believed that this project (at the full-scale level) would probably have a lower capital cost and be easier to operate than a batch-treatment system. Successful implementation of this process would render the super concentrate more amenable to by-product recovery and/or final disposal by evaporation.

Dr. Anthony Tarquin has received funding to expand this research and development from several agencies. Most recently, El Paso Water Utilities was recently awarded a WaterSMART grant to evaluate 70 gpm CERRO systems for wellhead RO systems.

CERROTM testing at UTEP cooling tower

CERROTM testing at El Paso Residence


The University of Texas at
El Paso
Kelly Hall, Room 208
500 W. University Ave
El Paso, TX 79968