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INL awarded for wastewater technology

The Idaho National Laboratory is being recognized for its achievements in purifying water. The lab was awarded by R & D Magazine for its wastewaster system, “Switchable Polarity Solvents Forward Osmosis.” Tuesday afternoon’s award went to three researchers from the INL.

Researchers said this could have a huge impact on the price you pay for water. The high cost and small amount of water throughout the nation are two huge problems we’re facing. But, the INL team has come up with a way to allow industries to reuse waste and salt water.

“We synthesized various aspects and provided a solution to the problems that the American people face,” said research scientist Fred Stewart. Steward said they use specialized thermolytic salts as a way to clean the dirty water.

The first step in the process of turning wastewater into clean water is having the wastewater go through a membrane that filters clean water out of it.

The second step is using low grade heat on the drawn water.

“You can imagine something like this would only purify about a gallon a day. Well we would like to be able to demonstrate thousand of gallons a day so they can actually be deployed and used,” said Stewart.

The project has been in the works for about two years and research chemist Aaron D. Wilson said its already developed some interest.

“We’re collaborating with the Colorado School of Minds as well as the University of Connecticut. In terms of industries we’ve got interest from the oil and gas industries as well as the water and treatment industry,” Wilson said.

INL researchers also said they need more money before industries can start using the system. The team is also looking at how to reuse drinking water, but it could be months or years before that happens.

The INL said the water purification system is still waiting for a patent.

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