GE Global Research Partners With Texas Tech University On Desalination Project

GE Global Research, the research organization of General Electric Co., announced on Nov. 28 a partnership with Texas Tech University to develop affordable water desalination systems to increase the quantity and quality of clean water available in arid areas.

The partnership will focus on the integration of renewable energy systems, such as wind turbines, with membrane desalination processes. The development of the integrated renewable energy-water system has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of creating new sources of freshwater from impaired resources, such as brackish water, by directly addressing the major component of the operating cost of desalination systems -- energy.

"Up to 50 percent of the operating costs of desalination is derived from energy consumption. With the potential for large variability in energy costs due to fuel price volatility, desalination systems can have significant operational costs," said Dr. Minesh Shah, project leader, GE Global Research. "The integration of wind energy provides an opportunity to mitigate this variability and allow for a lower cost desalination system."

Dr. Dean Smith, vice president for research at Texas Tech, said, "Developing cost-effective technologies that address improving water quality and availability are of critical importance to many water stressed areas in this region. We are pleased to partner with the GE Global Research Center to work together on this problem of both regional and worldwide importance."

GE seeks to develop a commercial scale demonstration within the next several years.

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