Project Name: Direct Solar Thermal Forward Osmosis Desalination of Produced Waters
Funding Opportunity: Solar Desalination
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Berkeley, CA
SETO Award Amount: $800,000
Awardee Cost Share: $200,000
Principal Investigator: Robert Kostecki

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and California Resources Corporation (CRC) are developing an integrated water treatment system for high-salinity wastewater produced from oil and gas fields. This system uses forward osmosis (FO) instead of reverse osmosis to purify the wastewater and reduce the costs of solar desalination. As part of this project, the project team will develop components and technologies that will allow the water treatment system to operate cost-effectively.   


This project will combine an advanced FO membrane technology with LBNL’s FO solution, which will facilitate direct absorption of solar energy using photonic infrared heaters. The team will use the integrated solar-thermal water treatment system in an effort to recover more clean water from polluted water containing high levels of dissolved solids than current technologies allow. The system is designed to be portable and therefore available for use in various locations. CRC, California’s largest oil and gas producer, will test the new technology.


This project could reduce the volume of wastewater produced from oil and gas fields, expand the capabilities of FO-based water treatment, and provide additional water streams for community or commercial uses, all while keeping electricity costs low. In addition to the new technology and advanced components, insights gained from modeling and economic analyses could help LBNL efficiently transfer the technology to CRC.