Lowering desalination manufacturing costs in the US
A new government-led hub in the US will focus on helping to develop and foster energy-efficient and cost-competitive desalination technologies.
Called the Energy-Water Desalination Hub, the initiative has been backed by $40 million by the US Congress and is expected to attract another $34 million from private stakeholders.
The National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) has been appointed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to lead the initiative.
With the ambition to “address water security issues in the United States”, the hub is being tasked to develop technologies to treat seawater, brackish water, and produced waters, for use in municipal, industrial, agricultural, utility, oil and gas, and other water supply needs.
The idea is that such progress will help US desalination system suppliers to manufacture critical components and parts—including the design and manufacture of small-modular and large-scale systems. The goal is to eventually lower the cost of manufacturing desalination technologies in the US.
NAWI, a public-private partnership with more than 35 members and over 180 organisations, was selected after a ten month-long process kickstarted by the Department of energy (DOE) in December 2010. It is led by founder and executive director Peter Fiske, who was formerly the CEO of PAX Water Technologies.
Desalination focus areas
Other short-listed applicants included the Desal Research & Innovation Consortium (DRINC), led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (California), and the Clean Water Technology Consortium, led by Sandia National Laboratory in (New Mexico).
According to the Water Desalination Report, the hub will be organised into four topic areas: 1) Materials Research and Development, 2) New Process Research and Development, 3) Modeling and Simulation Tools, and 4) Integrated Data and Analysis.
“The Hub will spur technological advancements in the treatment of non-traditional water sources,” said DOE secretary Rick Perry. “I’m proud that the Department of Energy is already a leader in this area, not simply in energy and water security, but in energy and water innovation.”
Water Security Grand Challenge
The Energy-Water Desalination Hub ties in with the White House-initiated Water Security Grand Challenge, which also included two prizes:
- Wastewater Resource Recovery Prize Competition. The prize targets increasing resource recovery from small-to medium-sized municipal wastewater treatment plants through the development of multi-stakeholder systems-based solutions. Specifically, the competition will seek teams from wastewater treatment plants, engineering and design firms, technology developers, resource customers (e.g. farmers, electric and gas utilities) and others to develop innovative, holistic resource recovery plans for their respective wastewater treatment systems.
- American-Made Challenges: Solar Desalination Prize. This prize is a series of contests designed to accelerate technology innovation through the design, development, and demonstration of desalination systems that use solar power to generate fresh water from salt water. The fresh water produced can be used for agriculture, industry, and for drinking. The prize provides innovators a pathway from initial concept to technical design, to prototype to field-tested systems that provide clean, accessible water using solar as the primary energy source.