Competition aims to expand the utilization of non-traditional sources of water, ensure water security in the U.S. and improve the resilience of infrastructure.
Many of the largest sources of non-traditional water resources contain high concentrations of dissolved salts, and desalination technologies can make these resources usable. Current state-of-the-art desalination technology, reverse osmosis, uses electricity to pressurize salt water and pass it through a selective membrane, producing fresh water on one side, and a concentrated brine waste stream on the other, but it is not well-suited to high-salinity water.
Thermal desalination technologies can handle water with very high salt content without greatly increasing the amount of energy needed. By utilizing low-cost solar-thermal energy, desalination technologies could be used in a variety of important environments, especially in arid, sunny places where water purification is especially important. Some potential applications include: purification of water produced from oil and gas wells and treatment of concentrated brine from inland desalination systems, including municipal systems reliant on underground saline aquifers; remote agricultural applications, and wastewater purification.
Submission to this Challenge must be received by 3:17 P.M. EEST Sept. 27, 2019.