The El Paso Solar Pond, a research, development, and demonstration project operated by the University of Texas at El Paso, is a salinity-gradient solar pond with a surface area of 3,000 m2 and a depth of 3.2 m. The pond utilizes an aqueous solution of predominantly sodium chloride (NaCl). The surface convective zone, main gradient zone, and bottom convective zone are approximately 0.6 m, 1.4 m, and 1.2 m, respectively. The project, located on the property of Bruce Foods, Inc., was initiated in 1983 in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Since then, the El Paso Solar Pond has successfully developed a series of technologies for solar pond operation and maintenance, as well as demonstrated several different applications. In 1985, the El Paso Solar Pond became the first in the world to deliver industrial process heat to a commercial manufacturer; in 1986 became the first solar pond electric power generating facility in the United States; and in 1987 became the nation’s first experimental solar pond powered water desalting facility. Currently, the major research at El Paso Solar Pond is focused on desalination and brine management technologies. The long-term goal of this research is to develop a systems approach for desalination/brine management via a multiple process desalination coupled with solar ponds. This systems approach will reuse the brine concentrate rejected from desalting plants thereby negating the need for disposal (zero discharge), and provide additional pollution-free renewable energy for the desalting process.

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