Dr. Marina Freire-Gormaly is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto in Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on the development of stand-alone solar powered reverse osmosis water treatment systems and energy recovery systems for remote communities that lack access to grid electricity. She completed her Ph.D. and M.A.Sc. from the University of Toronto in Mechanical Engineering. Her M.A.Sc. was on pore space characterization of carbonate rocks using micro computed tomography and pore network modeling for advancing Carbon Capture and Storage Technology. She teaches as the sole-course instructor of a 4th year undergraduate and graduate level course at the University of Toronto called “Innovative Technologies and Organization in Global Energy Systems,” which explores how engineers influence the complex interlinked energy systems which power our communities. She has worked at Ontario Power Generation on the Darlington New Nuclear Project and the Darlington Refurbishment Project. She is passionate about research, teaching and service to inspire the next generation of engineers to tackle society’s growing water and energy challenges. Her research interests include energy systems, optimization and design for the developing world.
Automated Design and Experimental Studies of Solar Powered Drinking Water Treatment Systems
The World Health Organization estimates that 760 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. Many regions with high water scarcity are off-grid, remote and have high solar insolation. Solar powered reverse osmosis water treatment systems can provide clean drinking water to these communities. However, to minimize the costs, these systems are configured with minimal battery storage and operated intermittently with extended shutdown periods. This presentation outlines the experimental characterization of membrane fouling under intermittent operation, the development of an analytical membrane fouling model and a design optimization framework that considers these experimental results for these solar powered water treatment systems. This talk will first present the experimental results to characterize membrane fouling from this intermittent operation. The experimental studies were performed using a fully-instrumented experimental lab-scale system that was designed, built, commissioned and operated with triplicate measurements of membrane permeability and membrane salt rejection. Second, results from a new pilot-scale experimental system that was also designed, built and operated will be presented. An analytical membrane fouling model was developed based on the experimental results. Finally, a novel automated design optimization framework for these solar powered water treatment systems that was developed using these experimental and analytical results will be presented. This design optimization framework can be used to configure a community-specific PVRO systems considering the community’s water demand, solar radiation and water characteristics. The goal of this automated design optimization framework is to make this technology accessible to resource-constrained communities.