Energy-Water Nexus

Reclaimed costs from reclaimed water

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Science  13 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6287, pp. 784
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6287.784-a

Thermoelectric power plants require huge volumes of water for cooling.

PHOTO: © FRANS LEMMENS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

High energy demands lead to the burning of prodigious amounts of fossil fuels and also require huge amounts of water. Cooling water for thermoelectric power plants, for example, constitutes ~40% of the total freshwater withdrawals in the United States alone. Barker and Stillwell evaluated the feasibility of reusing water for cooling power plants under multiple implementation strategies in and around Chicago. Retrofitting current power plants to use reclaimed water resulted in a substantial cost burden. The benefits of stable water temperatures and improved reliability of plants engineered for reuse, however, can potentially outweigh any new infrastructure investments. Sustainably weighing the costs and tradeoffs of water use for power generation will be crucial for current and future power plants to meet future regulatory requirements.

Environ. Sci. Technol. 10.1021/acs.est.5b05753 (2016).

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