Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced its intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that will drive innovation to decarbonize the entire life cycle of Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRFs). These facilities, which treat wastewater from public water systems, are estimated to be directly and indirectly responsible for over 44 million metric tons (MMT) of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year or the equivalent emissions from more than 9 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles. The upcoming funding opportunity will accelerate research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of technologies to help lower emissions from WRRFs and move the U.S. closer to a clean, decarbonized economy that benefits all Americans.

Our energy and water systems are closely intertwined. Water is used in all phases of energy production from hydropower to keeping power plants cool enough to function safely, while water extraction, distribution, and treatment all require energy. WRRFs are a key contributor to a circular economy and an essential part of our nation’s water infrastructure by simultaneously producing clean water, generating renewable energy, recovering nutrients from wastewater, and reducing our impact on the natural environment. However, cleaning water is an energy intensive process, and GHG emissions from WRRFs are estimated to be par on with the food and beverage industry—one of the largest GHG-emitting industries in the United States.

The FOA is expected to include the following topics:

Decarbonization of WRRF Unit Processes Research and Development: This topic will focus on research and development projects to reduce GHG emissions from various unit processes within WRRFs. Applications under this area of interest are expected to focus on emission and cost reductions from particular unit processes.

Reducing overall greenhouse GHG emissions from WRRFs: This topic will focus on pilot and demonstration projects to reduce GHG emissions and treatment costs for WRRFs. Proposals in this topic will address the GHG emissions profiles of a WRRF at larger scales and higher levels of technology readiness.

EERE plans to issue the FOA via EERE Exchange in December 2022. The funding opportunity is expected to include approximately $14 million in federal funding. EERE envisions awarding multiple financial assistance awards in the form of cooperative agreements. The estimated period of performance for each award will be approximately three to five years.

View the NOI for more information.

Learn more about the DOE Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office and its work to advance basic RD&D across the four pillars of industrial decarbonization.