technical solutions

Source Switching

There are many possible technical solutions to problems at the energy-water nexus. One suite of those options includes source switching: switching to energy sources that use less water and water sources that use less energy.

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Gray Water

Switching water sources can save energy and freshwater. If builders construct homes with plumbing systems that separate the water streams, then domestic gray water from showers, sinks, and clothes washers can be reused.

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Wastewater Effluent

Treated wastewater effluent is usually discharged to lakes, rivers, aquifers, or oceans. While ecosystems depend on many of those returns, it is also possible to use the effluent again before returning it to the watershed.

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Non-Fresh Water

There are over 1,300 power plants in the United States, about a thousand of which report their water use data to the U.S. government. Of those, about 10% use either brackish or saline water for cooling.

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Water-Lean Systems

One approach to solving the interdependency of energy and water is to develop water-lean energy systems.

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Energy-Lean Systems

Just as we can pursue water-lean energy solutions, we can also pursue energy-lean water systems. Water’s energy intensity depends on functions such as pumping, treating, and heating.

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Distributed Energy Technologies

By inverting the current utility paradigm to include smaller, modular, and geographically-distributed facilities, we can spread out rather than concentrate the resource requirements.

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Distributed Water Technologies

Distributed water technologies offer benefits similar to those of distributed energy technologies.

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Inventing the Wheel

While the integrated system of smart water and advanced technologies appeals to consumers in more economically developed countries, low-tech solutions can also be impactful.

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Connected Technologies

Among the many technologies, the suite of so-called smart technologies offers some key opportunities.

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Integrated Solutions

Today’s energy-water nexus exists as two interdependent systems sharing problems and vulnerabilities, but integrating the systems can solve problems across both sectors.

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