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 Co. and its subsidiary Georgia Power, Southern Research and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), which has assembled an R&D collaborative of 13 companies.
"This is the latest demonstration of our commitment at Georgia Power and Southern Co. to develop technology solutions for providing safe, clean, reliable and affordable electricity," said Georgia Power Environmental Affairs Vice President Ron Shipman.
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 Water Research Center 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.
"EPRI is pleased to be working with an industry collaborative that includes so many companies which recognize the importance of this issue of water consumption and the environmental impacts of its use," said Tom Alley, EPRI vice president of generation. "Current events of drought and high demands on existing water supplies emphasize the importance of water management."