By: Dr. Eli Kotzer, Chief Desalination Engineer, Desalination and Special Projects Unit, Mekorot.
At the Aquatech Exhibition 2013, held in Amsterdam, Mekorot presented a patent for the early identification of biofouling in water. This patent won first prize, in the inventions competition, at the opening ceremony of the exhibition, in the field of inventions not yet released onto the market. The patent was developed as a result of collaboration between Mekorot and the Technion in Haifa. Prof. Robert Armon of the "Technion" and Dr. Eli Kotzer of "Mekorot" conducted joint research on the subject of finding a microbial sensor to evaluate the efficiency of various pre-treatment methods, in reverse osmosis membrane desalination / purification systems.
The Objective of the Study
One of the objectives was to find indexes to increase the quality of pre-treatment prior to feeding the reverse osmosis membrane for purposes of reducing contamination, profiling measurement and tracking by means of growing a biofilm on a sensor fitted in parallel to the desalination plant, the development of a methods for measurement and tracking of biofouling potential, etc. The main objective was to solve the problem of biofouling at the purification plants, to reduce the cost of manufacturing [purified] water and to increase the uptime of the purification plants.
The device was registered as a patent by "Mekorot", and facilitates a simple field test, which takes 24 hours, to forecast the existing risk of biofouling growth, in the water, on the surface of the membranes in purification plants. The device, which was originally developed for waste water purification plants, where the risk of biofouling is greater, can also be used for other types of water in various plants, such as: Cooling towers, heat exchangers, irrigation systems and other water system