Siemens Water Technologies is working to develop an innovative seawater desalination technology, which could cut energy consumption by at least 50% compared to existing desalination technologies. The development of advanced desalination technology has been awarded a $4 million SGD research grant from Singapore’s Environment and Water Industry Development Council (EWI).
“We truly consider this developing technology a breakthrough in the desalination market—with significant global implications on water resource management and the wider use of desalination in the future,” said Chuck Gordon, CEO of Siemens Water Technologies.
Siemens will use the research grant to develop the technology at the company’s Singapore-based global research and development center in Singapore, which opened in late 2007.
EWI’s challenge required demonstration of energy consumption of 1.5 kWh per cu meter, which is about half of what has been demonstrated with the best available technology. In comparison to most of the actual operating desalination plants, which consume as much as 10kWh per cu meter, the reduction could even be much higher. The reduction in power usage is critical to greater application of seawater desalination worldwide to reduce the CO2 footprint in the environment.
Siemens’s technology is based on the concept of removing salts from seawater in an electric field. The project awarded under this Challenge RFP will investigate a process that integrates electrodialysis, ion exchange softening and a final desalting step using a novel continuous electrodeionization process to drive salt separation with minimum energy demand.
“By setting the bar high, EWI challenged innovators to creatively apply science and engineering to the reduction of energy consumption—one of the main issues with current desalination technology,” Gordon said. “We are grateful to the Singapore government for their continuing support of water-related research and leadership in the world water community.”
About 75% of the technical personnel for this effort will be based in Singapore, working in conjunction with research and development colleagues from the U.S. The first demonstration of the new technology will be in Singapore. “Proper management of our water resources is critical to meet the demands of population growth and industry,” said Gordon. “There is no one, perfect solution for water resource management. But, today, this industry-advancing research and development effort will point the way forward to more efficiently manage this valuable natural resource.”