Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering

Degree Level



Chemical Engineering


Penney, William R


In the United States, one of the major rising issues is water shortage, especially in Western, inland states with arid climates. Not only do deficiencies exist for potable water, but for irrigation and agricultural purposes as well. Currently, the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico has four separate wells that are being used for experimentation. A major concern is that a considerable amount of this water can be used as another reliable source for potable water if treated. The WERC-A-HOLICS have identified two possible methods to alleviate this problem. Electrocoagulation (EC) is a technology useful for the removal of sulfate and other anions from brackish groundwater. The process feeds brine into an EC chamber and uses an applied voltage to flow current through the system. By identifying the ideal combination of current density and residence time, it is possible to achieve approximately 45% sulfate removal by EC alone. In addition to this technology, the use of reverse osmosis (RO) alone and in conjunction with EC were evaluated as two alternatives for brine desalination. RO is a cost effective means of seawater desalination; it has been extensively implemented in other parts of the world, especially Europe and the Middle East. The economics of a combination of EC and RO were evaluated and compared with the alternative of RO alone. The WERC-A-HOLICS performed experiments to determine if EC was a viable means of removing sulfate from brackish water (using feed well #2 at Alamogordo). On a purely scientific level, EC as pretreatment for RO produced potable water; however, this system is not economical long term on an industrial scale due to its high yearly operating costs. When implemented on a smaller scale or when the brackish water feed has a lower sulfate concentration than specified for the task, EC has the potential to be economical due to its lower yearly operating and waste disposal costs.