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Desalination analytics platform wins MIT innovation prize

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Bloom Alert has won the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Water Innovation Prize for its analytics platform for coastal desalination.

Desalination innovation earns top prize

A start-up that has built an analytics platform for coastal desalination plants has won the MIT Water Innovation Prize.

This year’s winner, Bloom Alert, a software as a service (SaaS) application platform in oceanographic risk analytics, tracks ocean and desalination plant activity.

Its analytics platform provides desalination plants with early warnings about impending incidents that could disrupt clean water production or lead to coastal pollution.

“Coastal events can reduce a plant’s water production capacity by up to 30 per cent.”

Bloom Alert utilises satellite data in real-time to better understand what is occurring in the ocean around the plants.

Enzo Garcia, a team member of Bloom Alert said in the winner pitch: “Coastal events can reduce a plant’s water production capacity by up to 30 per cent — that means 30 per cent less water for coastal communities.”

Using 20 years of satellite data, Bloom Alert's models are capable of predicting a potential disturbance up to 14 days in advance.

A competition to combat climate change

The annual student pitch competition, supported by Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS), invites entries to address the challenges of climate change. This year’s winner received $18,000 in new funding as the grand prize.

Each year, student-led teams from around the world pitch their innovations to students, faculty, investors, and people working in various water-related industries.

Another finalist included Brineys, which seeks to fund new water desalination plants in water insecure countries by selling artisanal salt created as a by-product of the desalination process.

A digital solution to one of the desalination challenges

Garcia estimates that severe riptide events can cost desalination plants up to $200,000 a day. Bloom Alert's subscription-based analytics platform is being marketed as a savings solution to protect plants from unexpected events.

The company completed its first pilot project in South America with one of the country's largest desalination plants said it is already helping to secure 20 per cent of Chile’s desalinated water production.

The company is now setting its sights on plants in the Middle East, where almost half of the world’s desalination plants are situated.

Garcia said: “Our models allow plant operators to apply mitigation measures during emergencies, which improve not only plant efficiency, but also overall water security for potentially millions of people.”

Elsewhere, recent innovations are finding new ways to reduce the energy footprint of desalination.

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