440573 Water-Energy Nexus Focusing on the Application and Modification of Membrane-Based Desalination Processes

Sunday, November 8, 2015
Exhibit Hall 1 (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Leila Karimi, Chemical Engineering, Institute for Energy and the Environment/WERC New, Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

Research Interests

Fresh water resources are inherently limited by their quantity, and this has drawn the world’s attention. As an independent scientist, I will focus on improving membrane-based desalination technologies, such as ED/EDR, EDI, and FO, as well as other desalination technologies, in order to reduce the energy and cost requirements of these processes without impacting their performance. Additionally, I will work on using renewable energies, especially solar energy, to provide off-grid desalination systems for rural, remote off-grid areas and provide water for people who are suffering from fresh water scarcity.

Participated in Submission of Proposals

Center of Sustainable Energy for Sustainable Water, National Science Foundation

Sustainable Aggie Approach for Water Resources, submitted to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Global Innovation Initiative Grant

Ph.D. Dissertation

“Theoretical, Experimental, and Predictive Models for Ion Removal in Electrodialysis and Electrodialysis Reversal”

Research Experience

During my Ph.D. studies, I conducted experiments on pilot-scale EDR at the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility (BGNDRF) in Alamogordo, NM. These  experiments provided me with a general idea of how operating parameters affect the removal of different ions in the EDR process. Utilizing this data, I designed and built a complete laboratory-scale ED system equipped with a complete data acquisition system. The reason that the data acquisition system was designed and used in this system was to continuously and accurately monitor and record the operating conditions during the entire set of experiments. The collected data was used in developing an empirical model to predict the removal of monovalent and divalent ions in the ED/EDR process at various operating conditions. The developed dimensionless model can be widely used for full-scale electrodialysis operations for which the removal of specific ions is desired.

Teaching Experience

Prior to attending NMSU, I independently instructed a number of undergraduate courses, such as Mass and Energy Balance, Organic Laboratory, and Chemistry Laboratory. During my Ph.D. studies, in the role of Future Faculty Fellow, I independently taught 5 sessions on heat exchangers, held review sessions, and assisted in quiz and exam question development. Additionally, I individually taught a number of chapters and sessions and desiged the quizzes of an Engineering Data Analysis course. I have been assigned as the instructor of this course for spring semester of 2016. Additionally, I have served as a TA and guest lecturer for several undergraduate courses.  

Future Direction

As a faculty member, I would like to continue my research in the water-energy nexus. Desalination process optimization, which is one of my interests, can be viewed from several perspectives. The optimization process can be conducted either by decreasing the cost of the process or by increasing the sustainability of the process. Moreover, the desalination process as a whole can be improved by the hybridization of different processes. The utilization of renewable energy resources in desalination processes, which is my second research area, can reduce the operating cost of the process.

My short- and long-term research objectives give me confidence that I will be able to obtain funding and add significant improvements in areas related to the water-energy nexus; this wide research area will provide enough opportunity for me to improve the efficiency and sustainability of desalination systems to help provide fresh, safe water for people who currently do not have access to it. Based on my experience in the area of the water-energy nexus, I will be able to establish a strong collaboration with industry and academia to make my research objectives achievable.

Selected Publications and Presentations

L. Karimi, L. Abkar, M. Aghajani, A. Ghassemi, “Technical Feasibility Comparison of Off-Grid PV-EDR and PV-RO Desalination Systems via Their Energy Consumption,” Separation and Purification Technology, 2015, 151, pp 82-94.

L. Karimi, A. Ghassemi, “Effects of Operating Conditions on Ion Removal from Brackish Water Using a Pilot-Scale Electrodialysis Reversal System,” Desalination and Water Treatment, 2015, (In Press).

C. Hanrahan, L. Karimi, A. Ghassemi, A. Sharbat, “High-Recovery Electrodialysis Reversal for the Desalination of Inland Brackish Waters,” Desalination and Water Treatment,” 2015, (In Press).

L. Karimi, A. Ghassemi, “Investigating and Understanding the Selectivity of the Conventional Ion-exchange Membranes used in Electrodialysis Process,” Desalination & Water Purification Research, Prepared for Reclamation under Cooperative Agreement No. R10AC80283, 2014.

L. Karimi, A. Ghassemi, “Investigating the Effect of Velocity on Ion Removal at Different Conditions in Electrodialysis,” IDA World Congress, Aug.-Sep. 2015, San Diego, CA (Accepted).

L. Karimi, A. Ghassemi, “The Preferential Ion Removal in Electrodialysis Process,” World Environmental and Water Resources Congress, May 2015, Austin, TX.

L. Karimi, A. Ghorbani, A. Ghassemi, J. Loya, “Selectivity Comparison for Two Cation Exchange Membranes in the Electrodialysis Process,” AICHE Annual Meeting, Nov. 2013, San Francisco, CA.

Honors and Awards

Preparing Future Faculty Graduate Assistantship Award, 2014

International Desalination Association’s 2013 Channabasappa Memorial Scholarship

IEE/WERC Graduate Research Education Fellowship, 2013

Helen Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship, 2013

Reenergize the Americas Scholarship, 2012

NSF CMMI Engineering Research and Innovation Conference Scholarship, 2012

Outstanding Graduate of Chemical Engineering Department at Sahand University of Technology, 2006-2009

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