Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in partnership with the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), announced a $6.5 million request for proposals (RFP) to develop new technologies for purifying non-traditional water sources. The advancements in desalination technologies will help propel the modernization of America’s water infrastructure, increase access to clean, potable water and move the country towards net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Finding new, sustainable sources of water is a major challenge in our effort to mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “Desalination technologies can help us build a modern infrastructure that equitably delivers water to every sector of our economy.”

Nearly all water in the United States accessed by municipalities, households and utilities, along with industrial, agricultural, and oil-and-gas extraction industries, is sourced from freshwater. But, due to changing precipitation patterns caused by climate change, increased water demand and aging infrastructure, freshwater supplies are dwindling and end-users are looking to non-traditional sources to reinforce water supply.

The high amounts of saline and potential contaminants found in non-traditional water sources, such as seawater and brackish groundwater, agricultural, municipal and industrial wastewater will likely require more energy to treat the water for inevitable use.

This RFP will support projects focused on advanced desalination technologies to minimize the cost and energy burdens of these non-traditional water sources, expanding the U.S. water supply, improving climate resiliency, and reducing carbon emissions throughout America’s energy and water infrastructure. Projects funded through this solicitation will specifically address the autonomous water and precision separation challenges for non-traditional water sources.

Concept papers are due by June 15, 2021. View the request for proposals HERE.

NAWI is a public-private partnership that brings together a world-class team of industry and academic partners to examine the critical technical barriers and research needed to radically lower the cost and energy of desalination. NAWI is led by DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in collaboration with National Energy Technology Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and is funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.