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Thomas A. Davis, PhD

thomas davis
Director, Center for Inland Desalination Systems

Professor, Civil Engineering
Kelly Hall, Room 203

Tom Davis holds both the B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of South Carolina and returned there after a successful industrial career. Dr. Davis holds 14 patents for products and technology developed while working for Milliken in Spartanburg, SC; the Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, AL; and Exxon in New Jersey; and the University of South Carolina. Dr. Davis' research interests are in separation processes including extractions with supercritical carbon dioxide adsorption and ion-exchange membranes (dialysis, electrodialysis, and electrodeionization) and in the production and storage of hydrogen. Electrodialysis utilizes membranes that are selectively permeable to positively or negatively charged ions such as Na and Cl-. The process is useful for recovering salts or acids from wastewater streams and returning them to the chemical process. Dr. Davis has developed a mobile, skid-mounted electrodialysis system that can be used for treatability and process design studies in the laboratory or at a plant site. A recent application is for total utilization of seawater to produce freshwater and industrial chemicals – NaCl, Mg compounds, Bromine, etc. Electrodialysis with special membranes recovers NaCl from reverse osmosis reject brine and facilitates recovery of Bromine and Mg.

Building on these areas of expertise, Dr. Davis has developed a desalination process that uses a combination of reverse osmosis and another process that separates calcium and sulfate, two components of gypsum, from water. The process creates two separate streams of salt, one with calcium chloride and the other with sodium sulfate. These streams are mixed to precipitate calcium sulfate (gypsum), which can be harvested for the building industry. Veolia signed a licensing agreement with ZDD Inc. of Columbia for the exclusive rights to commercialize the patent-protected ZDD (Zero Discharge Desalination) technology.

Dr. Davis has a diverse research portfolio spanning the areas of membrane processes (electrodialysis, dialysis, electrodeionization, reverse osmosis, gas permeation, fuel cells), biomedical engineering (blood substitutes, hemoperfusion, artificial kidney, glucose sensor, body support), activated carbon, ion exchange, organic reaction kinetics, textile finishes, heavy residual oil, hydrogen production and storage, CO2 and pollution control. He has 14 patents and has authored many papers and given many presentations.


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