National Alliance for Water Innovation
NREL is one of four national laboratories leading the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI), a five-year, $100-million energy-water desalination hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
NAWI is designed to address water security issues in the United States by focusing on early-stage R&D for energy-efficient and cost-competitive desalination technologies.
The strategic goal of NAWI is to conduct early-stage applied research leading to a portfolio of technologies that enable pipe parity for 90% of nontraditional water sources. To achieve this goal, NAWI is working to:
- Secure a circular U.S. water economy by acquiring water supplies from nontraditional sources
- Develop technologies to enable pipe parity
- Enhance the economic, environmental, and energy security of the United States.
Led by the team of NREL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, this research consortium includes industry partners and leading U.S. research universities, and NAWI's public membership organization, the NAWI Alliance.
NAWI has four research topic areas:
- Integrated data and analysis of nontraditional water sources
- Modeling and simulation of water treatment materials, processes, and treatment trains
- Process innovation and intensification R&D to facilitate distributed reuse
- Materials and manufacturing R&D innovations to support low-cost desalination.
With extensive experience in water technology research, NREL leads NAWI's first two topic areas: (1) integrated data and analysis and (2) modeling and simulation. The lab has capabilities that can be accessed to address process innovation and intensification and materials and manufacturing.
Integrated Data and Analysis
NREL leads NAWI's Integrated Data and Analysis Topic Area, which focuses on enabling advanced water technology research by:
- Providing a secure and publicly accessible data management system
- Developing a standardized open-source analytical platform for consistently evaluating pipe parity of technologies treating non-traditional water sources
- Providing innovative systems-level analyses and tool development.
As part of this effort, NREL is developing the Water Technoeconomic Assessment Pipe-Parity Platform (Water-TAP3), which is an analytical platform for evaluating water technology cost, energy, and environmental trade-offs across water sources, sectors, and scales to support techno-economic assessment. This tool is currently in development and will be available on OpenEI in 2021.
Modeling and Simulation
NREL performs multiscale modeling and simulations to inform NAWI's R&D process via performance forecasting, design optimization, and operation of desalination technologies and to help advance fundamental understanding of materials, processes, and phenomena related water-treatment systems.
As part of this effort, NREL developed Water Data Analysis and Management System (Water DAMS). Hosted externally on OpenEI, Water DAMS provides access to foundational data that enable researchers and decision makers to identify and quantify opportunities for technology innovation to reduce the cost and energy intensity of nontraditional source water desalination. It is the submission point for all data generated by research contracted by the NAWI Alliance. With publicly accessible contributions from a variety of academic and industrial partners, Water DAMS seeks to enable data discoverability, improve accessibility, and accelerate collaboration that contributes to pipe parity and innovation in nontraditional water source treatment technologies.