Addressing Energy-Water Challenges Through Transformative Research

Monday, 6 October 2014: 14:10
Expo Center, 2nd Floor, Universal Ballroom (Moon Palace Resort)
J. Klausner (U.S. Department of Energy)
The total annual freshwater withdrawal in the U.S. is 483 billion m3, and 41% (198 billion m3) is used for cooling thermoelectric power plants.  Of that, 5 billion m3 is dissipated annually to the atmosphere. Currently, regional fresh water shortages exist in the Southwestern and Southeastern U.S.  Considering population growth and climate change models, extreme and severe water shortages are projected in a large portion of the U.S. by 2050, which places at least 4 quadrillion BTUs of annual electricity production at risk. Regions facing freshwater shortages typically have access to brackish or seawater, which can be desalted to produce fresh water. The main hurdles to the adoption of large scale desalination are the large energy consumption and environmental concerns due to concentrated brine discharge back to the source. This talk will examine the applied research interests at the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for addressing future energy-water challenges. The identification of transformative technology for the elimination of power plant water consumption without a penalty on power plant efficiency will be discussed.  New technologies that will enable distributed desalination with low energy consumption will be considered. Different geographical regions face different challenges, which will require the development of a variety of technologies to address unique regional energy-water challenges.