Duke Energy and its subsidiaries, including Progress Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Florida, have joined with a dozen other companies and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in supporting the new Water Research Center (WRC) at Georgia Power's Plant Bowen in Cartersville, Ga.
A new technology being tested at the research and development center could significantly reduce the water needed for power plant cooling towers.
The WRC is the first U.S. research facility of its kind, providing a venue for developing and testing technologies to reduce power plant water withdrawals and consumption and improve the quality of water related to power generation.
Operated by the Southern Research Institute, the WRC is being developed by Southern Company and its subsidiary Georgia Power, Southern Research and the EPRI industry collaborative.
"Duke Energy is proud to join our industry colleagues in exploring innovative water-management technologies in this unique research center," said Mitch Griggs, vice president of Environmental Services for Duke Energy. "The breakthrough results we anticipate from the Water Research Center will inform our technology decisions and enable us to continue to provide reliable, affordable and increasingly clean electricity to our customers well into the future."
Cooling water is essential for most thermal, or steam-driven, electric generation, which is the primary form of producing power in the United States and globally. Although most of the water withdrawn for power generation is returned to the source, the energy industry is focused on finding more efficient ways to manage water resources.
Evaluation of the new technology – a thermosyphon cooler developed by Johnson Controls – is the first project to become operational at the center.
According to Johnson Controls, the technology transfers heat to the environment without evaporative water loss by using an air-cooled refrigerant that pre-cools water before it enters the cooling tower.
The thermosyphon cooler reduces the amount of water that must be cooled by evaporation in the cooling tower, thus reducing water consumption.
The year-long testing at the WRC will document the technology's water savings potential and energy consumption characteristics.
The WRC is being designed to accommodate development and evaluation of power plant water management technologies in seven areas. These include cooling tower water chemistry and advanced cooling systems; process wastewater treatment; zero liquid discharge options; moisture recovery from power plant processes; solids landfill water management; carbon technology water issues; and water use modeling and monitoring for best management practices.
The technologies being explored at the WRC can be implemented by power companies worldwide to address water issues and also will educate students and community leaders about the importance of water conservation and the technologies being developed to reduce water consumption.