New Project to Address Critical Water Issues in Power and Energy Generation Industry

Thermoelectric power plants are the second largest user of water in the United States, ranking only slightly behind agricultural irrigation. Power plants fueled by coal and natural gas account for about 52% and 17% of the nation's electricity supply, respectively. The plants impose a high demand on the nation's water. The ISGS has initiated a new program to address critical water issues in the power generation industry. The initial goal is to develop a research and development path that will lead to identification of potential research priorities related to water usage and consumption in power and energy generation plants. Water issues from coal mining and cleaning, to transportation, coal utilization in different power generation plants, and byproducts utilization will be addressed. The project also aims to identify similar issues in plants powered by natural gas. Specific areas of interest are advanced cooling technology, water reuse and recovery technology, water treatment technology, and wastewater treatment technology. Ultimately, research areas will be identified that will lead to reduced power plant water usage and minimize potential water quality impacts in a cost-effective way.