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By  Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

DOE EERE announced on March 22, 2021, awards totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure and treatment projects. Spanning 13 states, each project will focus on bringing new water and wastewater-treatment technologies from the applied R&D stage into the market. According to DOE, increasing numbers of utilities responsible for clean water have shifted from strict wastewater treatment models to a broader model of water-resource management. This new model involves collecting and treating wastewater to produce water suitable for industry and agriculture along with drinkable water for households and energy recovery. Wastewater treated by these utilities serves as a potential source of thermal, chemical and hydraulic energy. With the right technology, therefore, it is possible to convert wastewater into renewable power, chemicals, fertilizers, and reusable water.

The 16 selected projects aim to provide sustainable water sources and affordable treatment options to industry, municipalities, agriculture, utilities, and the oil and gas sector by tackling several objectives, including:

  • Developing widely applicable treatment processes to produce renewable power, extract chemicals and fertilizers, and reuse water locally, while simultaneously minimizing energy consumption and waste generation;
  • Evaluating flexible grid service for opportunities to generate biopower from wastewater;
  • Deploying artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive process controls to improve resilience and efficiency;
  • Addressing environmental justice and social inequities produced by lack of access to clean water among rural and Native communities; and
  • Improving wastewater-treatment options for agriculture and livestock.

A complete list of the 16 projects is available here.