Black & Veatch Corporation

Black & Veatch Awarded Desalination Research Contract


Source: Black & Veatch Corporation

AwwaRF/California Energy Commission study will yield recommendations for design and operation of desalination facilities to improve energy efficiency 


Kansas City, Mo. – Black & Veatch, a leading global engineering, consulting and construction company, announced today it is leading a multinational study to evaluate optimal desalination facility design and operation for improving energy efficiency.


This timely project will benefit utilities around the world that are considering desalination of marginal water sources as an option to diversify their water supply portfolios, particularly in areas where demand is growing and freshwater resources are limited. It is funded by the Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF) and the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. The project is recommended by a Technology Roadmap developed by AwwaRF and the PIER program to address energy efficiency for water and wastewater utilities. The two organizations together have donated more than $2 million to fund projects from the Technology Roadmap.


Population growth, changing weather patterns, and pollution of available water resources have been exerting unprecedented stress on water supplies around the world. With the available fresh water sources already over-allocated, many developing or rapidly growing regions are considering use of supplies previously considered to be economically untreatable. As more utilities consider use of marginal supplies such as reclaimed wastewater, brackish water and seawater, they are increasingly turning to advanced treatment processes such as desalination. 


Unfortunately, desalination processes are energy intensive and power consumption increases with the salinity level of the source water. The research study was commissioned to identify ways to minimize energy consumption through optimal design and operation of desalination facilities.  


 “Increased application of desalination technologies presents challenges for the water industry by increasing overall energy demand as well as energy operation costs for utilities that must develop new sources of supply,” said AwwaRF Senior Project Manager Kenan Ozekin, Ph.D. “This research project provides an opportunity to tap into the experience of desalination pioneers with the goal of optimizing the energy efficiency of currently available desalination processes.”


Black & Veatch process engineer and desalination expert Srinivas (Vasu) Veerapaneni serves as principal investigator for the study. Other Black & Veatch water technology experts with significant membrane and desalination experience join him in conducting the research, working closely with technical and project advisory committees as well as selected utility partners across the United States and around the world. The company has a demonstrated history of leading desalination research, including a recent innovative AwwaRF project that culminated in the development of zero liquid discharge technologies for inland desalination that are less expensive and energy-intensive than available technologies.

The current project includes the collection and evaluation of data from existing desalination facilities that treat municipal wastewater for reuse, brackish groundwater and surface water, and seawater. Recommendations will focus on facility planning, site location, water quality, design and operational issues that affect energy consumption. 


 “This research addresses the water-energy nexus at a time when interest in energy-intensive processes is on the rise,” said Black & Veatch Global Water Practice and Technology Leader Bruce Long. “Throughout the execution of this project, Dr. Veerapaneni’s team will draw from Black & Veatch’s extensive expertise in both water and energy to develop a manual that will benefit the entire industry, from utilities to manufacturers. This is a perfect example of Black & Veatch leading in water and energy technologies and operating from a global platform.”


The study will augment data collected at the Center of Excellence for Desalination in Singapore, established by Black & Veatch in early February. The decision to locate the center in Singapore was largely attributable to the tremendous interest in desalination in the Asia-Pacific region – especially in Singapore and Australia, where Black & Veatch has been involved in major desalination projects. The center will focus on optimizing plant performance, enhancing membrane life and keeping utilities and other stakeholders ahead of the technology curve. 


The study is expected to be completed in early 2009.

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