Energy-Efficient Desalination + Waste Water Reuse

Faculty Lead: Emily W. Tow

Student Researchers

  • Tommy Weir ’21
  • Shawn Albertson ’21
  • Anna Letcher Hartman ‘22

Research Objectives

Desalination can help alleviate water scarcity, but current technologies use too much energy. Wastewater reuse requires less energy than seawater desalination, but significantly concentrating this water raises the risk of crystallization (scaling) on the membranes. We are developing a more energy-efficient water reuse technology by building and testing a cyclical reverse osmosis (RO) desalination system. By treating water in short cycles, rather than continuously, we hope that RO membranes can be used to purify scaling-prone wastewater using less energy.


As we strive to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, energy-efficient and reliable wastewater reuse technology may play a significant role in meeting the world’s freshwater needs.

About the Tow Lab

The Tow Lab addresses sustainability through the study of transport phenomena at the water–energy–food nexus. Current research involves understanding membrane fouling, improving energy efficiency in water reuse, and characterizing the thermal properties of recycled textiles.

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