Aquapod© water treatment studied for water conservation at power plants    

Dec. 4, 2017

A low-energy water treatment system developed at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) has been selected for development by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as an improved technology for water conservation in power plants.

An innovative water treatment method could conserve water and improve water quality at power generation plants.

An innovative water treatment method could conserve water and improve water quality at power generation plants.

Aquapod© combines forward osmosis and small amounts of heat. Now ISTC will evaluate scaling up the patented technology for use at power plants where it is estimated to double to quadruple water recovery per unit of energy expended compared to the best current methods. 
Conventional membrane technologies require electricity and are not as efficient. The Aquapod© process works on waste heat from power plants rather than direct energy inputs. It is also safer method since it doesn’t need hazardous chemicals such as gaseous ammonia used in current state-of-art, according to Nandakishore Ragagopalan, ISTC associate director and Aquapod© developer.

Aquapod is a polymer-assisted forward osmosis process.Aquapod© is a polymer-assisted forward osmosis process.

“If the process proves scalable to the needs of commercial power plants, the resulting improvements in water quality could help keep both water use and generation costs down,” Ragagopalan said. 

The estimated $929,617 project is one of 12 ‘crosscutting’ research projects totaling $8.6 million recently announced by the DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy.

Power plants, especially coal-fired power plants, withdraw huge amounts of water (60 billion-170 billion gallons annually according to a 2011 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists). Successful water conservation innovations can reduce competition for water supplies. 

Aquapod© will be evaluated for inexpensive water treatment of highly degraded water streams including cooling towers, flue-gas desulfurization effluents, ash pond effluent, and wastewater left over from conventional reverse osmosis treatment.

Wastewater samples and other assistance will be provided by a large Illinois coal-fired power plant. Partners also include Trimeric Corporation which will perform techno-economic analysis and provide guidance on system design and engineering.


Contact: Nandakishore Ragagopalan