The National Science Foundation has awarded more than $300,000 for water treatment research to Dr. Lucy Mar Camacho, a Texas A&M University-Kingsville associate professor of Environmental Engineering.
The grant will fund the research project “Collaborative Research: Dry-Wet Phase Inversion Pathway of Graphene Oxide (GO)-Based Mixed-Matrix Membranes for Mineral Ions Separation by Membrane Distillation.”
Membrane distillation is an energy-efficient alternative to multi-stage flash and multi-effect distillation processes and can be configured to concentrate brines, according to the project description. Graphene oxide is a versatile anti-fouling nanomaterial that will be used in the synthesis of mixed-matrix membranes with properties specific to the application in membrane distillation.
Camacho said membrane technology for water desalination and treatment of produced water has the potential to fundamentally alter the way society views water reuse.
“Augmenting water treatment capacity will allow rural, arid, and isolated regions with limited access to water, to have potable and reliable membrane systems for treating water,” the project description states.
The goal of the project is to establish and understand the dry-wet phase inversion membrane development approach to overcome limitations in utility for produced water purification.
“I am glad to have the National Science Foundation recognizing my effort and funding my research ideas, which also means recognizing Texas A&M-Kingsville,” Camacho said. “My research on nanomembrane technology for desalination of impaired waters will allow me to contribute to solve one of the most challenging paradigms of the 21st century, which is the lack of potable water for a growing population. As a researcher, I am very glad to been able to help solve these issues.”