June 12, 2012

RTI International Awarded Grant to Develop Energy-Efficient Water Treatment Technology with Veolia, Duke

Highlights

  • RTI International to develop a process technology to improve the energy efficiency associated with industrial water treatment
  • The technology could provide up to 91 percent reduction in electricity consumption and up to 94 percent reduction in water discharges
  • The $4.8 million grant is under the Manufacturing Initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy
  • Project partners include Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies North America, Inc., and Duke University

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E. Wayne Holden
E. Wayne Holden

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International has been awarded a grant under the Innovative Manufacturing Initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a new process technology that will improve the energy efficiency associated with industrial water treatment in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

Under the $4.8 million grant, researchers at RTI, in partnership with industrial partner Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies North America, Inc., and Duke University, will develop an advanced, hybrid membrane system, which will capture waste heat from industrial processes to treat wastewater. The new technology is applicable to a wide range of industries, such as power generation, refining and chemical sectors.

Enormous amounts of heat are generated throughout industrial processes, but most of the heat is wasted. RTI's unique technology focuses on simultaneously capturing and using this waste heat and improving industrial water reuse efficiency.

"We are proud to be part of this national research initiative to solve core technology challenges facing industry," said Wayne Holden, president and CEO of RTI. "This technology has the potential to reduce industrial energy and water consumption, lessen the environmental impacts associated with industrial operations, and stimulate the creation of other new technologies."

Initial estimates indicate that the technology could provide up to a 91 percent reduction in electricity consumption, up to a 34 percent reduction in water usage, and up to a 94 percent reduction in water discharges in comparison to conventional approaches to industrial water treatment and reuse. The technology could also eliminate the significant greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional aerobic biological water treatment.

"This really is a collaborative effort between RTI and our research partners," said James Cunningham, Ph.D., senior research engineer and project director for RTI. "We will be combining Duke and RTI's expertise in environmental science, process engineering and technology development and applying it in a novel way to solve an industrial challenge."

"The involvement of our commercial partner Veolia, a global leader for industrial water treatment technologies, will help guide this focused technology development and provide a clear path to commercialize the technology," said Markus Lesemann, director for business development at RTI.

The three-year project will eventually demonstrate the technology at prototype scale in an industrial wastewater treatment setting.

The award is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Innovative Manufacturing Initiative, administered by the Advanced Manufacturing Office in DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program. This program supports research efforts that seek to solve core technical problems facing industry and that will result in significant improvements in energy productivity, environmental performance, product yield and economic benefits.