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Water Management

Assessing the Energy-Water Nexus, and providing new technologies for efficient energy production

Water is a fixed resource with competing demands and increase uncertainty. Furthermore, there is an inextricable link between water and energy, as thermoelectric power generation accounts for over 40% of freshwater withdrawals and over 3% of freshwater consumption in the U.S. Check out NETL’s recently published Water Briefs for a more detailed discussion on water demands and consumption throughout the contingent US.

The Water Management program addresses these competing water needs and challenges, through a series of dynamic and complex models and analysis that are essential in informing and deciding priority technology R&D initiatives. 

The program encompasses the need to minimize any potential impacts of power plant operations on water quality and availability. Analyzing and exploring plant efficiency opportunities can reduce the amount of water required for fossil energy operations. 

New water treatment technologies that economically derive clean water from alternative sources will allow greater recycling of water within energy extraction and conversion as well as carbon storage processes. This helps reduce the amount of total water demand within fossil energy generation. 

The program leads a critical, national effort directed at removing barriers to sustainable, efficient, water and energy use; developing technology solutions; and enhancing the understanding of the intimate relationship between energy and water resources.


Analyzing new methods to conserve water usage of fossil fuel generating systems

Water Management R&D focuses its research in three chief areas: increasing water efficiency and reuse, treatment of alternative sources of water, and energy-water analysis. These research areas encompass the need to minimize potential impacts of water quality and availability.

Water Graphic

Increasing Water Efficiency and Reuse

With the inextricable link between water and energy, it is increasingly important to use water effectively through the power generation sector. This area aims to advance concepts for both new, and existing plants to minimize water intake and use. Examining plant cycles and testing new efficient processes, not only can reduce water intake, but also lower overall operating costs. 

Treatment of Alternative Sources of Water

Identifying, and treating alternative sources of water, such as brackish, and effluent streams, offers opportunities for scientists to address energy-water system challenges. This area focuses on furthering technology to utilize alternative water resources that can span multiple facts of R&D, including considerations of capital costs, operating costs, and system integration.

Energy-Water Analysis

The complex relationship between energy and water is constantly developing. The multiple components that impact the system can be modeled and analyzed to better inform decision-makers, and scientists alike. This area helps prioritize research objectives through thorough analyses of the water-energy system behavior.

Plant on water

Water System Technologies at the Plant

The diagram explains the movement of water throughout the plant and highlights key technologies where water efficiency can be improved.

Water outline


Technology area contact:

Briggs White

HQ Program Manager:

Robie Lewis