By Marc Kodack
In December 2018 the Department of Energy (DOE) announced an intention to establish an Energy-Water Desalination Hub (Hub). On September 23, 2019, DOE announced the award of a five-year, $100 million grant to create the Hub to the National Alliance for Water Innovation led by the DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The Alliance consists of multiple DOE labs, universities, and industry. The Hub’s water security focus will be on research and development “to provide low-cost alternatives that treat “non-traditional” water sources such as seawater, brackish water, and produced waters, for use in municipal and industrial water supplies, or to serve other water resource needs.”
While the Department of Defense already has organic desalination capability to support its operations, the results of the Hub’s desalination research and development efforts would be useful to both operations and military installations/contingency bases given the effects that climate change will have on surface and groundwater supplies. For example, being able to efficiently produce potable water on-site reduces the energy needed to purify seawater and brackish surface/groundwater, reducing logistical risks required to transport the fuel needed to create that energy. Producing potable water on site also reduces or eliminates the need to transport the large quantities of bottled water needed by personnel each day.