Thirsty farms in California’s Central Valley will have a new technology on their side that will convert drainage water into fresh water for irrigation.
The Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water district in the country, is funding a pilot project that will use New Sky Energy’s salt/CO2 conversion process that will convert high salinity drainage water into fresh water for irrigation and “clean” chemicals that can be sold to help subsidize the new plant’s costs.
The $3.2-million project includes a demonstration drainage water treatment facility that will be built in Central Valley. The first phase is projected to break ground in the second half of 2010. When fully deployed, the plant will desalinate approximately 240,000 gallons of drainage water per day and convert approximately five tons of waste brine salts into carbon-neutral and carbon-negative chemicals such as acid, caustic soda and solid carbonates like limestone and soda ash. The project will also capture approximately 2.8 tons of CO2 daily.
Westlands will work with New Sky Energy and its joint venture partner Ag Water – New Sky to build and deploy the water treatment plant. Ag Water – New Sky will provide the reverse osmosis desalination equipment, while New Sky will supply its carbon-negative electrochemical technology to process the waste brine stream generated by desalination.
New Sky will process salts extracted from drainage water to capture CO2 from the air, producing several clean chemicals, which can be sold to subsidize the desalinization plant costs.
In addition to providing fresh water for the more than 600,000 acres of farmland in western Fresno and Kings Counties and eliminating drainage water pollution, the project is also expected to eliminate the potential danger posed by salts building up in the soil, which can impact plant roots, preventing crop growth and reducing yields, according to the partnership.
Another novel wastewater demo project is underway in Hopewell, Va., where algae will help clean river water at the Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. The project also yields an associated by-product. It produces bio fuel and green coal from the algae residue.