Environmental Engineering Research and Practice Seminar

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Disrupting Desalination:
Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction for Hypersaline Brines

Dr. Ngai Yin Yip
Earth and Environmental Engineering
Columbia University


Hypersaline brines, e.g., produced water from oil and gas extraction, are of growing environmental importance but are technologically under-served by today’s desalination methods. In this talk, we present a radically different approach for hypersaline desalination, termed temperature swing solvent extraction (TSSE). The technology utilizes a low-polarity solvent that is immiscible with aqueous solutions to extract water from hypersaline brines. Because the water solubility of the solvent is highly temperature-sensitive, a mild temperature swing causes the aqueous phase to demix from the solvent, yielding product water. We demonstrate the potential of TSSE to desalinate hypersaline brines with exceptional salt removal and showed high water recovery of actual brines. Capability of TSSE to treat high-scaling propensity feed streams is presented and prospects of the technology for zero liquid discharge is examined.

Ngai Yin Yip is an Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University. He received his doctoral degree in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from Yale University, where his dissertation work on novel membrane technologies for the sustainable production of energy and water earned the CH2M Hill/AEESP Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2014. His current research is focused on advancing technologies and innovations for environmental challenges at the nexus of water and energy, including energy-efficient desalination, sustainable resource recovery from waste streams, and novel membrane materials for water purification. His research has been sponsored by the NSF and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.