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Desalination and Photosynthesis

Functional unit description

The “Desalination and Photosynthesis” unit is integrated by researchers from the Chemical Engineering Department of the Universidad de Almeria and from the Plataforma Solar de Almería who have started a new independent research group “Desalination and Photosynthesis” (BIO-352) with synergies from the two fields. Researchers of this unit are also adscribed to the Plan Andaluz de Investigación research groups “Desalación Solar, TEP026” and “Biotecnología de microalgas marinas, BIO173”. This unit was started in 2014 and focused its activity on the water-energy-food nexus, beginning with the set up and operation of new installations and facilities dedicated to water desalination with solar energy by using hydrophobic membranes, as well as the application of solar energy in biological microalgae-based depuration processes. Both lines present ample opportunities for synergy and for joint work with other R&D units within CIESOL which raise frequent collaborations.

Main research lines

The group works in two parallel lines dealing with solar energy application in desalination using membrane systems and microalgal cultivation particularly oriented to recycling by solar energy-driven synthesis of commodities such as biofertilizers or biodiesel and value products such as carotenoids and essential fatty acids. Seawater is the main raw material the research deals with although other types of feed, such as freshwater, brines, rackish waters or wastewaters are also considered. The main research lines are:

  • Development of membrane-based solar desalination and water treatment systems.
  • Application of solar energy to the treatment of hypersaline media.
  • Recovery of value compouds from brines and hypersaline effluents.
  • Design of photobioreactors for the cultivation of microalgae.
  • Applications of microalgae to the purification of wastewaters and industrial effluents
  • Valorization of microalgal biomass obtained from wastewater.

Main researchers

Jose M. Fernández Sevilla

ORCID ID = 0000-0002-0290-5810
Scopus Author ID 6602856181

Is a Full Professor of Chemical Engineering at Universidad de Almeria, currently affiliated with the Engineering Department at Universidad de Almería. He obtaines a Degree in Industrias Chemistry (Químico Industrial) at Universidad de Granada in 1991 and a PhD. In Chemistry in 1995 at the Universidad de Almería. He has worked in in twelve I+D projects in the international and spanish national levels, as lead reseacher in  five of them. He has participated also in 15 research contracts funded by companie, has also advised  six PhD. Theses and is the co-author of seven patents and over one-hundred scientific publications in peer-reviewed international journals.


Guillermo Zaragoza del Águila

ORCID ID = 0000-0002-4452-9980 Scopus Author 6701505211

PhD in Applied Physics by the University of Granada, Spain (1996). Has held academic positions in the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas of Spain (CSIC), the University of Oxford, Estación Experimental “Las Palmerillas” (Fundación Cajamar) and is a Senior Researcher in the Department of Energy of Spanish CIEMAT (Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology Research), at the Plataforma Solar de Almería, where he is currently the head of the Solar Thermal Applications scientific unit. Has published more than 95 papers in peer-reviewed international journals, presented more than 150 papers on international conferences, authored 11 book chapters and co-authored 5 books. Teaches in international courses on Solar Desalination organized by the European Desalination Society (EDS) and on the Master Course on Solar Energy organized by CIESOL. He is leading the Working Group on Renewable Energy Desalination in the Water Europe platform, of which he is also ambassador.