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A tribute to Sidney Loeb —The pioneer of reverse osmosis desalination research

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Abstract

The technical viability of RO desalination technology was demonstrated in the late 1950's by the pioneering work of Sidney Loeb and Srinivasa Sourirajan and a team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) led by Professors Joseph McCutchan and Samuel Yuster. Today Reverse osmosis (RO) membrane desalination is a mature process for the production of potable water from seawater and inland brackish water. RO membranes are also now widely used as part of the overall process for the treatment of wastewater for reclamation and reuse for irrigation, industrial, and groundwater recharge applications. RO desalination technology is used worldwide and has made it possible to develop new potable water sources in areas of the world where freshwater water sources are scarce.
Desalination and Water Treatment
www.deswater.com
1944-3994 / 1944-3986 © 2010 Desalination Publications. All rights reserved.
doi: 10.5004/dwt.2010.1762
15 (2010) 222–227
March
* Corresponding author.
A tribute to Sidney Loeb –The pioneer of reverse osmosis desalination research
Yoram Cohen*, Julius Glater
Water Technology Research Center, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, University of California,
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1592, USA
Tel. +1 310 825 8766; Fax +1 310 477 3868; email: yoram@ucla.edu
The technical viability of RO desalination technology was demonstrated in the late 1950’s by the pioneering work
of Sidney Loeb and Srinivasa Sourirajan and a team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
led by Professors Joseph McCutchan and Samuel Yuster. Today Reverse osmosis (RO) membrane desalination is a
mature process for the production of potable water from seawater and inland brackish water. RO membranes are also
now widely used as part of the overall process for the treatment of wastewater for reclamation and reuse for irrigation,
industrial, and groundwater recharge applications. RO desalination technology is used worldwide and has made
it possible to develop new potable water sources in areas of the world where freshwater water sources are scarce.
... The most common technology used for desalination is RO in which high salinity water is pushed at high pressures through a polyamide layer, which rejects ions and solutes. Polyamide membranes first came into use in the 1970s, 11 and comprise densely outline the working principle of several X-ray, neutron, electronbased, and positron-based techniques, and illustrate how these can be advantageously applied to water desalination technologies. These tools are particularly insightful when combined with computational modeling. ...
... 5,7,12,13 Water and solutes partition into the polymer and then diffuse through the membrane, driven by the chemical potential gradient. 11 Subsequently, water molecules exit the membrane into the permeate stream. Most solutes do not easily diffuse through the RO membrane. ...
Article
Desalination technologies, which remove solutes from water, are essential to the purification of water for agricultural and industrial purposes and for potable use. While a variety of desalination technologies exist, their performance and durability need improvements to meet future clean water demands. This challenge is particularly complex as a variety of feed water sources exists, which contain various amounts of salt, dissolved organic matter, suspended particulates, and other contaminants. Hence, predictive knowledge of the underlying physics and chemistry at the atomic and molecular scale is crucial for designing improved desalination materials and processes. In this Perspective, we outline how advanced characterization techniques, including X-ray, neutron, electron-based, and positron-based methods can be advantageously applied to water desalination technologies to provide detailed molecular insight, especially when combined with computational modeling. We summarize some of the scientific challenges in two prominent desalination techniques, membrane reverse osmosis and capacitive deionization, and lay out some specific approaches toward solving these challenges. With these developments, we anticipate that the use of advanced characterization can help advance the field of water desalination in much the same way that these have aided progress in energy storage and conversion science over the last decades.
... En 1920, Zsigmondy y Bachmann, Ferry y Elford hicieron importantes avances en membranas de ultrafiltración y microfiltración a escala piloto [26][27][28]. En 1950 Gerald Hassler introdujo el primer concepto de la desalinización del agua empleando membranas [29]. En 1958, Sidney Loeb y Srivasa Sourirajan comenzaron a trabajar en un proyecto conjunto sobre membranas y dos años después presentaron la primera membrana asimétrica de acetato de celulosa. ...
Article
Full-text available
Resumen— La Tecnología de Membrana permite separar materiales de distinto peso molecular, lo que hace que su desarrollo haya sido muy importante a través de la historia, reduciendo costos energéticos y preservando los recursos no renovables entre otros factores. Hoy en día tiene múltiples aplicaciones, como es el caso de la obtención de las proteínas del lactosuero, la desalinización del agua de mar, la limpieza de aguas residuales, la obtención de componentes volátiles a partir del café soluble, etc. Esta revisión presenta una descripción del desarrollo de las tecnologías de membranas y sus más importantes aplicaciones. Abstract— Membrane Technology allows to separate materials of different molecular weight, and that is why this technology has been very important through history, reducing energy cost and preserving natural resources. Nowadays it has a lot of applications such as obtaining whey proteins, desalination of seawater and wastewater cleanup, obtaining volatile components from soluble coffee, among others. In this review a description of Membrane Technology development and its critical applications is introduced. Resumo – A tecnologia de Membrana permite separar materiais de distinto peso molecular, o que torna seu desenvolvimento muito importante através da historia, reduzindo custos energéticos e preservando os recursos não renováveis entre outros fatores. Hoje em dia tem múltiplas aplicações, como é o caso da obtenção das proteínas do lactosoro, a dessalinização da agua do mar, a limpeza de aguas residuais, a obtenção de componentes voláteis a partir do café solúvel, etc. Esta revisão apresenta uma descrição do desenvolvimento das tecnologias de membranas e suas mais importantes aplicações.
... Potable water purveyors are increasingly turning to advanced membrane technologies to augment existing unit operations to improve water quality and allow reliance on poorer source waters. Synthetic reverse osmosis membrane processes, made practical and possible by the pioneering work of Sidney Loeb and Srinivasa Sourirajan during the late 1950s at the University of California, Los Angeles, offers today's water purveyors an economical method for sustainable augmentation using impaired water sources [1]. Many coastal communities are, or are intending to, employ synthetic membrane processes to desalinate seawater because of the need to supplement dwindling fresh water supplies due to expanding population centers, environmental degradation, extended drought and climate change. ...
Article
An investigation was conducted to determine the iodide content of permeate collected from several operating facilities reliant upon synthetic membrane processes for seawater desalination. A possible, yet unintentional impact for communities that employ synthetic membrane processes for seawater desalination is the introduction of permeate streams containing iodide into their water supply, that then may result in the formation of iodinated disinfection by-products. To evaluate this potential, the iodide content of desalinated seawater permeate streams were measured using an analytical procedure based on the catalytic reduction of ceric sulfate by arsenious acid in a sulfuric acid solution. It was determined that iodide concentrations in permeate samples collected from seawater desalination facilities were less than the catalytic reduction method detection limit of 4.0μg/L for membrane feed seawaters that ranged between 51.1μg/L and 35.8μg/L of total iodide. Results of this investigation indicated that synthetic membrane processes can remove greater than 89% of the total iodide from the feedwater of seawater based on an iodide detection limit of 4.0μg/L.
... However, in the eighties and nineties membrane technology was introduced successfully in many industrial applications and efficient semi permeable membranes became available [1]. The technical viability of RO desalination technology was demonstrated in the late 1950's by the pioneering work of Sid Loeb and Srivasa Sourirajan and a team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) led by Professors Joseph McCutchan and Samuel Yuster [2]. During the 1970s, Sidney Loeb develops membrane technology for the desalination of seawater, and later Loeb devoted significant efforts to develop an osmotic engine which generates power from two water sources having different salt concentrations, such as sea water and a low salinity fresh water source [3]. ...
Article
Full-text available
World climate change challenges and the world’s consistent growing demand for energy during the past decade have brought the need to explore for more renewable energy resources. The continuation of exploring green energy sources results Osmotic Power- a new emission-free source of sustainable energy that can be used to generate electricity. Osmotic power plant is only feasible in places where rivers flow out to the ocean. The leading virtue of osmotic power is that it would be capable to produce a steady and reliable supply of renewable base load power as an alternative of other variable sources like solar or wind. There are some hurdles to generate osmotic power. Developing suitable membrane and initial construction cost are top on of them. Though Osmotic power is years from commercial feasibility but researchers think that it could provide thousands of tera watts of base load power per year around the globe. This paper presents an overview of osmotic power generation system with the analysis of potential benefits and limitations of it.
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Continuous processing of pharmaceuticals opens opportunities for continuous separation based on wettability of polymer membranes. Dual use of hydrophobic and hydrophilic membranes realize in-line liquid-liquid extraction in the synthesis of...
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The primary objective of this investigation has been to explain why cellulose acetate behaves as a semipermeable membrane in saline water. To explain this phenomenon, two different mechanisms for the transfer to water and ions through cellulose acetate membranes were formulated. Those ions and molecules that cannot enter into hydrogen bonding with the membrane are transferred by hole-type diffusion. The rate of diffusion appears to be governed by a water-cellulose acetate structure. The reaction between water and the cellulose polymers to form bound water regions is favored by compressing the membrane. As pressure is applied on the membrane, more bound water is produced, which causes the rate of hole-type diffusion to decrease. On the other hand, those ions and molecules that can associate with the membrane and are transported through it by alignment-type diffusion. The formation of the water-cellulose acetate structure does not appreciably diminish the diffusion rate of water through the membrane. Cellulose acetate begins to behave as an effective semipermeable membrane in saline water when it is compressed sufficiently to retard greatly the diffusion of NaCl. Several types of experiments were conducted to support these hypotheses. The most important evidence was obtained from resistance experiments. The electrical resistances of specific ions was measured across cellulose acetate at various pressures by using permselective membranes to prevent migration of the ion of opposite charge. It was observed that the rate of diffusion of those ions that cannot combine with the membrane actually does decrease as the membrane is compressed. The rate of diffusion of H3O+, which can enter into hydrogen bonding with cellulose acetate, is much higher and is not appreciably reduced as the membrane is compressed. These resistance-pressure relationships are correlated with the semipermeability of the cellulose acetate.
Appropriate electrolytic additives in cellulose acetate casting solutions for reverse osmosis desalination membranes, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Cali-fornia
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Three and One-Half Years Experience with Reverse Osmosis at Coalinga, California
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The use of molecular oil films in a pressure method for obtaining irrigation water from the sea, unpublished Report
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G.L. Hassler, The use of molecular oil films in a pressure method for obtaining irrigation water from the sea, unpublished Report, August 1950; Gift to UCLA Engineering Library, July 1954, Uni-versity of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles.
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Personal notes on the development of the cellulose acetate membrane, preapred by and delivered by Sid Loeb at an honor ceremony of the first Inaugural Sydney Loeb Award by the European Desalination Association in which the Sidney Loeb Award
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S. Loeb, Personal notes on the development of the cellulose acetate membrane, preapred by and delivered by Sid Loeb at an honor ceremony of the first Inaugural Sydney Loeb Award by the European Desalination Association in which the Sidney Loeb Award, 2006.
Desalting Irrigation Field Drainage Water by Reverse Osmosis
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D. Antoniuk and J.W. McCutchan, Desalination Report No. 54, Desalting Irrigation Field Drainage Water by Reverse Osmosis, Firebaugh, California, UCLA-ENG-7368, California Water Re-sources Center, August, 1973.
Reverse Osmosis Desali-nation Plant Design and System Optimization Based on the Facility at Firebaugh, California
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L.W. Speight and J.W. McCutchan, Reverse Osmosis Desali-nation Plant Design and System Optimization Based on the Facility at Firebaugh, California, UCLA-SEAS Report No. UCLA-ENG-7982, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Los Angeles, California, 1979. Downloaded by [Northeastern University] at 13:25 01 February 2015