A Case Study in Design, Construction, and Operation of a Meromictic Solar Pond in Texas, USA

Bianca Paola Meneses Brassea, University of Texas at El Paso


Over the last four decades, meromictic solar ponds have been the subject of limnological studies and engineering research. A case of practical interest is the salinity gradient solar pond (SGSP). SGSP science and technologies have been systemically advanced in El Paso, Texas. This dissertation aims to share lessons learned in designing, constructing, and operating the El Paso Solar Pond, a NaCl-based solar pond that achieved high-temperature performance over two decades, commencing in 1984. Many of the practical lessons learned have not been published and are thus not readily available in archival journals, and this contribution provides a remedy. The value of this work is in synthesizing the body of knowledge on methods and processes required to achieve solar pond high thermal performance and providing valuable information for solar pond operators. Systematic monitoring of a solar pond assures optimal operation. Instrumentation systems must be accurate, reliable, robust, and easy to operate and maintain. Given these needs, a practical understanding of facilities, equipment, and monitoring systems supports successful solar pond utilization for various practical applications. Instrumentation systems provided the necessary data for operators to visualize the status of pond functions, such as the salinity and thermal profiles, water chemistry for clarity, and operational behavior pattern recognition. Features, factors, and facets of design, construction, and maintenance are presented straightforwardly to inform and guide planning for future work. Emphasis is on sodium chloride-based ponds, the base salt used for the El Paso Solar Pond. However, lessons learned are pertinent to additional salt source configurations. Reference to solar ponds operated in Australia and Israel provides design and construction insights. Careful design and planning prior to construction ensure the solar pond's reliable and sustainable operation.

Subject Area

Alternative Energy|Environmental engineering|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Meneses Brassea, Bianca Paola, "A Case Study in Design, Construction, and Operation of a Meromictic Solar Pond in Texas, USA" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29999818.