The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Wednesday announced $21 million for 14 new projects to advance solar-thermal desalination technologies.
The projects are focused on reducing the cost of solar-thermal desalination and helping the technology reach new markets, including to areas that are not connected to the electric grid, a statement said.
Desalination treats seawater, brackish water, and contaminated water for use in municipal and industrial water supplies, or to serve other reclamation needs. Therefore, desalination operations need to be grid-connected, limiting their applications to areas with electricity access, according to the statement.
Four markets that are particularly attractive for solar desalination technologies include municipal water production, agriculture, industrial processes, and the purification of water produced from energy development, including oil and gas extraction, according to the statement.
Projects that address challenges for small-scale plants that process low-volume, high-salinity water, like brine from oil and gas operations, target a levelized cost of water (LCOW) of $1.50 per cubic meter, it said.
Projects that address challenges for large-scale plants that process high-volume, low-salinity water, like sea water for a municipal utility, are, on the other hand, expected to target a LCOW of $0.50 per cubic meter.
The awardees represent industry, laboratory, and university researchers such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. ($1.5 million), New York-based Columbia University ($1 million) and Oregon State University which was awarded $2 million.
The other awardees are listed as follows:
- Fraunhofer USA Center for Energy Innovation (Storrs, Connecticut): $800,000
- GreenBlu (Hamilton, New Jersey): $1.6 million
- Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley, California): $800,000
- Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (Kailua-Kona, Hawaii): $2 million
- University of California: Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California): $2 million
- University of California: Merced (Merced, California): $1.1 million
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, Illinois): $1.6 million
- University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, North Dakota): $2 million
- Rice University (Houston, Texas) $1.7 million
- SkyFuel, Inc (Lakewood, Colorado): $1.6 million
- Sunvapor, Inc. (Livermore, California): $1.5 million
By Gulsen Cagatay