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Energy Department Announces Funding to Advance Water Security

the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in partnership with the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) Hub (Hub), announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) for innovations in intensified brine-management solutions for high-salinity streams. The RFP supports the Water Security Grand Challenge (WSGC), a White House-initiated, DOE-led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water using a coordinated suite of prizes, competitions, R&D, and other programs.


“Through the National Alliance for Water Innovation, the Department of Energy is focused on cutting-edge research and development to advance energy-efficient, cost-competitive desalination technologies,” said Alex Fitzsimmons, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. “The innovative technologies that will be developed through this Request for Proposals will treat a wide range of non-traditional water sources to serve multiple commercial and industrial end-use applications, with the goal of strengthening America’s long-term energy and water security.”


Present desalination technologies produce concentrated brine waste streams that are costly to manage. Technological advancements will help domestic suppliers of water-desalination systems manufacture critical components and parts at a lower cost, with the same—or better—quality. NAWI will conduct early-stage R&D, leading to a portfolio of technologies that enable pipe parity for 90% of nontraditional water sources within 10 years.


Through this RFP announcement, the Hub is seeking proposals that directly address desalination knowledge gaps in five areas:

  1. Novel processes and operational modes that leverage a fundamental understanding of the thermodynamics and kinetics of inorganic scaling processes in ultra-high salinity brines.

  2. Experimentally validated computational models for optimizing heat and mass transfer rates in hypersaline conditions and complex geometries.

  3. Process and material innovations enabling low cost concentration of high salinity waters.

  4. Reducing the lifecycle costs of small volume salt crystallizer.

  5. Techno-economic analysis of novel brine waste valorization schema, detailing the end point for all constituents in the feedwater brine.

The Hub strongly encourages teaming between universities, national laboratories, and companies as an effective strategy for the successful advancement of NAWI-relevant technologies. NAWI envisions awarding 4-12 projects for scientific research to teams of research performers from industry, academia and national laboratories with a minimum 25% cost share required from each team.


View the RFP here. Concept papers are due September 21, 2020.

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