US DOE to harness ‘power of competition’ in Water Security Grand Challenge

The US Department of Energy has set out ambitions to harness the "power of competition" to drive innovation in water technology through a new programme of activity.

The Water Security Grand Challenge is an initiative of the White House led by secretary of energy Rick Perry, which will comprise “a co-ordinated suite of prizes, competitions, early-stage research and development funding, and critical partnerships,” a DOE statement said.

The programme is still in the early stages of development, with the DOE hosting a stakeholder workshop at the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, on 25 October 2018, to gather input from external experts on potential prizes, and next steps.

The long-awaited funding opportunity for an Energy-Water Desalination Hub, for which DOE issued a notice of intent in July 2018, was not included as part of the latest announcement.

The DOE is to partner with the US Environmental Protection Agency to deliver the Water Security Grand Challenge, and additionally expects to collaborate with other organisations in the future.

The stated aims of the new programme are:

  • Launch desalination technologies that deliver cost-competitive clean water;
  • Transform the energy sector’s produced water from a waste to a resource;
  • Achieve near-zero water impact for new thermoelectric power plants, and significantly lower freshwater use intensity within the existing fleet;
  • Double resource recovery from municipal wastewater; and
  • Develop small, module energy-water systems for urban, rural, tribal, national security, and disaster response settings.

“Through this challenge, we’ll call on the power of competition to spur innovation, draw on the strengths of our partners and stakeholders, and tap into the expertise and world-class capabilities of the DOE’s 17 national labs,” said secretary of energy Rick Perry.