After 2 years of postponed, canceled, or remote scientific interactions, the NAWI research community has been well represented at summer water research conferences. These conferences have been venues for sharing the results of NAWI’s early R&D accomplishments (roadmaps, baselines, WaterTAP, WaterDAMS, research outputs, etc.) and an opportunity to take stock of NAWI’s influence on the water desalination field more broadly. Below are several highlights from NAWI Research Consortium and Alliance members who attended the conferences and noted the degree to which NAWI’s research agenda has influenced the direction of water treatment across the broader research community.
NAMS 2022: Phoenix, AZ
Profs. Manish Kumar of UT Austin (a NAWI project performer and Beamline Characterization Advisory Council member) and Mary-Laura Lind of ASU hosted the North American Membrane Society annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ. A hybrid remote and in-person conference, this well attended set of workshops and conferences offered the first opportunity for the membrane community to come together after release of our roadmapping and baselining products. Manish mentioned that “NAWI roadmaps and NAWI supported research has shifted the conversation in the membrane community (as seen in NAMS meetings) and in the environmental engineering community more broadly towards electrification of water treatment and a focus on resource recovery in a significant way. Interest in oxyanion pollutant treatment has also grown as a result of NAWI activities as seen in presentations on these topics.”
AEESP 2022: Washington University in St. Louis
Prof. Dan Giammar of WUSTL (a NAWI Cartographer) was the co-chair of the AEESP conference held on the beautiful WUSTL campus. The agenda focused on convergence research, highlighting (among other topics) ways in which research, practice, and entrepreneurship were critical to addressing issues in water, climate, and sustainability. Dan noted that “a substantial number of the 320 abstracts submitted to the 2022 AEESP Research and Education Conference were focused on advanced water treatment processes. When our program committee had to determine an effective way for thematically grouping the presentations, the best framework that emerged was based on A-PRIME. Electrified treatment processes, modular membrane systems, and precision separations were all highlighted in the conference program.”
Other highlights included NAWI Next-Gen Katie Weitzel winning the best poster award at AEESP for her research on “Treatment and Reuse of Agricultural Drainage Water: Challenges and Opportunities” and Dr. Tim Bartholomew, Dr. Dan Gunter, Prof. Daniel Gingerich and myself hosting a pre-conference workshop with 90+ registrants on NAWI’s WaterTAP and WaterDAMS tools. (All materials are available here, for those of you unable to make the workshop, but are interested in learning more!) The highlight of the conference for me was seeing Amy Childress’ (a NAWI Cartographer) group at USC present on their cooling water treatment baseline analysis using NAWI’s WaterTAP tools.
GRC in Membranes: Materials and Processes
NAWI Deputy Topic Area Lead Jeff McCutcheon and several NAWI research consortium and Alliance members are attending the GRC in Membranes: Materials and Processes as you read this dispatch. Having seen a preview of the invited speakers, Jeff anticipates tremendous interest and lively discussion around Daniel Miller’s (LBNL) presentation of his NAWI-funded project on Computational and Experimental Test Beds for Prediction of RO Module Fouling. Jeff also noted that “NAWI has had a big impact on the membrane science community, particularly by highlighting the critical need for innovation in brine management as a key opportunity to lower the cost and energy use for desalination in the United States.”
Several other upcoming conferences will afford additional opportunities for NAWI to disseminate research results and share our collective vision for accessing non-traditional water at pipe parity through innovations in A-PRIME. We also look forward to hearing about innovations in the field, successes that change the R&D landscape in one or more A-PRIME areas, or new research directions that NAWI should consider allocating funding toward.