A Fulbright scholar from Argentina, Victoria Guerrero was the recipient of one of two Best Student Paper awards at the 2018 Membrane Technology Conference & Exposition. Her paper was titled “Effects of Dissolved CO2 on Organic and Inorganic Fouling and Cleaning of RO Membranes.” Victoria is a member of David Ladner‘s research group in the Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences Department at Clemson. Her work aims to improve the reverse osmosis (RO) process for desalination (salt removal). When RO is used to treat high-salinity groundwater, some salts like calcium carbonate can precipitate onto the membrane and block the flow of water. Victoria is studying the benefits of carbon dioxide to clean such precipitates. Chemicals like sulfuric acid are typically used for cleaning, but they must be disposed after use. If carbon dioxide works well it will exolve naturally from solution, leaving no residual. Victoria’s results show that CO2 can be effective in certain situations, creating a pathway toward commercial implementation.
The Membrane Technology Conference was held in West Palm Beach, Florida, March 12-16, 2018. It is jointly hosted by the American Membrane Technology Association (AMTA) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The CDOX system used in Victoria’s work was provided through a collaboration with BlueInGreen.