Sandia LabNews

Sandia, Bureau of Reclamation plan desalination R and D

Sandia, Bureau of Reclamation release research strategy for cost-effective water desalination

Sandia and the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) last week announced the release of a Technology Roadmap to guide future investments necessary to reduce the cost of water desalination.

The report, compiled by a panel of experts, also outlines needed advanced water treatment technologies.

Desalination technologies could provide new processes to remove salts and other contaminants from impaired waters cost-effectively and efficiently.

"The development of an adequate and viable water supply for the 21st century requires the coordinated efforts of many organizations in both the public and private sectors," says Tom Hinkebein (6113), the roadmap program manager who, along with Marie Garcia (1010), represented Sandia on the panel.

"The Technology Roadmap provides the framework for those interactions," he says.

The research roadmap defines a research and development path for desalination technologies, beginning today and continuing through the year 2020. If implemented, the strategy would support finding solutions to the nation’s water supply-related needs by advancing water desalination technologies, he says.

"Cost reduction is the single most important factor necessary to increase the implementation of desalination, which will in turn reduce pressure on our limited fresh water supplies," says John Keys, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. "As we enter the fourth year of a drought in many western states, it is imperative that we develop new technologies to increase our domestic water supply."

The report is expected to be used to guide decision making by Congress, federal agencies, utilities, and research institutions and individuals funding or conducting desalination research.

The Bureau of Reclamation is asking the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council (NRC) to review the report to address whether the roadmap presents an appropriate and effective course to help address future freshwater needs in the United States.

The NRC also is asked to identify general priorities for research investments. A final report of the roadmap committee will be issued that incorporates the comments from the NRC and other national desalination experts.

Development of the roadmap began with a discussion among members of an expert panel of major national-level water supply needs over the next several decades and included several case studies drawn from across the nation, says Tom.

Sandia and the Bureau of Reclamation convened the panel, which included representatives of the private sector, municipal water agencies, academic and other research institutions, and the federal government.