ORNL to develop clean water solutions in new DOE $100M innovation hub


OAK RIDGE, Tenn. Sept. 23, 2019-The National Alliance for Water Innovation, a partnership of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, other national labs, university and private sector partners, has been awarded a five-year, $100 million Energy-Water Desalination Hub by DOE to address water security issues in the United States. Reliable access to clean water is a pressing global challenge, and the new hub will focus on early-stage research and development for energy-efficient, low-cost solutions for desalination and the treatment of nontraditional sources such as industrial wastewater.

NAWI, a partnership between Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ORNL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, will advance a portfolio of novel technologies for a circular water economy. The goal is the recycling of 90% of nontraditional water sources such as seawater, inland brackish water, municipal and industrial waste streams, and produced water from oil and gas production in a manner that is cost- and energy-competitive with existing water sources.

“The Department of Energy is pleased to focus the resources of four national laboratories along with university and industry partners to enable technology breakthroughs to improve water security for the nation,” said Assistant Secretary for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons. “The Energy-Water Desalination Hub will leverage cutting-edge research to advance the creation of transformational technologies that promote energy-efficient, cost-effective water purification with the goal of meeting the national and global need for secure, clean water.”

“Ensuring the availability of clean water is one of the most important challenges of our time,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “We look forward to leveraging ORNL’s strengths in materials, separations, high-performance computing, manufacturing, sensors and controls to develop breakthroughs for affordable, efficient water sources.”

“By bringing together experts from the national labs, industry and academia, we will ensure our work captures the best ideas, targets real-world scenarios, and results in transformational impact,” said Moe Khaleel, associate laboratory director for Energy and Environmental Sciences at ORNL. “NAWI represents an elite team of researchers from across the United States. Among the alliance’s 10 founding industry and 19 university partners are four winners of the prestigious Clarke Prize, awarded each year by the National Water Research Institute to the nation’s thought leaders in water science and technology.”

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