Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017MA463B

Addressing water supply issues through the modeling, analysis and optimization of renewable hybrid systems for water and electricity production

Institute: Massachuseits
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $24,400 Total Non-Federal Funds: $48,804

Principal Investigators: Jon McGowan, Matthew Lackner

Abstract: Water and energy are two inseparable, interconnected systems that impact our lives, and yet most attempts to improve these systems treat them independently. Water and energy systems are inherently coupled because it takes energy to treat and move water, and water is utilized in a variety of ways for energy production. Any solution to water supply problems must therefore consider these two systems in tandem. One potential solution to the problem of fresh water supply is the use of ocean water desalination systems. Desalination requires substantial energy either in the form of electricity or heat, which is often supplied by non-renewable sources. The proposed work will develop a computational model for a concentrating solar hybrid energy-desalination system that can be applied to both residential and industrial applications, for the production of fresh water and electricity as well as cooling and heating. The results will advance the understanding of hybrid energy-desalination systems, and contribute to the adoption of these systems in the future, enabling increased supplies of fresh water and renewable electricity in regions of highest need. The proposed hybrid systems in this project bring many advantages such as enhancing the reliability and efficiency, minimizing energy losses, reducing capital costs, and decreasing material waste and environmental concerns. This research brings new contributions to the research community in different key aspects. The novelty of this research lies in the development of several possible utility scales configurations using the above sub-systems that satisfy the most important demands in both the residential and industrial sectors. Another novel aspect of the project is the development of control schemes and strategies that can meet all the operational, reliability and safety requirements of the hybrid system operating autonomously throughout the year. The results generated from this project will provide insight regarding the technical, economic and environmental aspects of utility scale hybrid energy-water systems using CSP. These technologies have the potential to make a significant impact on water supplies by addressing the coupled nature of energy and water systems, while also utilizing renewable energy. This project will provide guidelines for constructors, investors, decision makers and plant operators including choosing the optimal configurations based on existing demands of a location, and operating and controlling the sub-systems.