USBR grant funds research into photobiological process to improve desalination


Jayme Blaschke | April 26, 2024

a group of people standing in front of a government building
Keisuke Ikehata, Ph.D., and a team of researchers at the Brackish Groundwater Desalination Research Facility in New Mexico.

Keisuke Ikehata, an assistant professor in the Ingram School of Engineering at Texas State University, has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s (USBR) Desalination and Water Purification Research program to further development of a photobiological process to improve freshwater recovery at desalination and water reuse facilities. 

Ikehata's project, “Pilot Photobioreactor Development for Scalant Removal and Enhanced Water Recovery from Brackish Reverse Osmosis Concentrate,” was one of eight grants awarded nationwide by the USBR.

brackish diatoms
A microscopic image of brackish diatoms.

The TXST team has developed a photobiological treatment process using brackish diatoms, which removes dissolved silica and calcium carbonate from reverse osmosis (RO) concentrate, enabling additional water recovery through secondary RO.

The project is scheduled to commence in September 2024 and aims to demonstrate continuous pilot photobioreactor operation using sunlight with a reduced reactor footprint. The pilot system will be designed and fabricated at TXST and deployed at the USBR’s Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, N.M., for pilot testing in the spring and summer of 2026. 

The project is being conducted in collaboration with, and supported by, the City of Wichita Falls, Orange County Water District, San Antonio Water System, Fukui Prefectural University and Yokogawa Fluid Imaging Technologies.

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922