Power industry to look to Georgia for water-based technologies

Georgia Power on Nov. 19 dedicated the new Water Research Center (WRC) at the coal-fired Plant Bowen near Cartersville, Ga.

This state-of-the-art center will focus on developing new ways to reduce, conserve and improve the quality of water returned to the environment from power plants, the utility said. The WRC is the first U.S. research facility of its kind, and was made possible through a partnership with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Southern Research Institute and 14 other companies aligned with the power generation industry.

Water quality and use issues are becoming a major concern for power plant operators. For example, California is forcing generators to eliminate once-through cooling at several power plants in that state.

The WRC will provide a site for testing technologies to address water withdrawal and consumption, as well as explore ways to recycle or improve the quality of any water returned to the environment. The facility is expected to yield industry-wide insights that will help companies minimize the use of water and increase conservation.

“We’re proud to host the new Water Research Center at one of our largest generation facilities. Efficient water management is the responsibility of every energy company and, through the work of this center, we will lead the industry in developing new ways to use and conserve this critical resource,” said Paul Bowers, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “In all areas of our business, we’re committed to conducting cutting-edge research that helps us provide clean, reliable and affordable power to customers both now and in the future.”

“The results of the Water Research Center’s test projects are being shared among Georgia Power, EPRI members and the broader electric generation industry,” said Arshad Mansoor, senior vice president of the Research and Development Group for EPRI. “This helps electricity generators all over the world to understand the performance of new technology research and, where appropriate, implement cost-effective strategies to improve water use efficiency and reduce liquid pollutant discharges.”

“We are excited to be collaborating with our partners in the Water Research Center,” added Arthur Tipton, Southern Research president and CEO. “The goals of minimizing industry water use and positively impacting conservation not only benefit the power generation industry, but also the environment, and future generations to come. This is a win in every way.”

During the dedication, research center partners highlighted a number of the center’s benefits including the seven distinct research areas of study: 

  • Moisture Recovery: Researching technologies and methods to recover moisture that would otherwise be consumed or lost through emissions “scrubbing,” cooling tower plumes and flue gas.
  • Cooling Tower and Advanced Cooling Systems: Examining new ideas for reducing cooling water use such as increasing cooling tower cycles of concentration, diverting/reducing cooling tower heat loads, assessing the feasibility and applicability of hybrid wet/dry cooling systems and more.
  • FGD/Process Wastewater Treatment: Advancing technologies to treat and reuse water from various waste sources – including flue gas desulfurization (FGD) discharges, cooling tower blowdown, floor drains and storm water runoff.
  • Zero-Liquid Discharge: Exploring technologies that separate pollutant-bearing waters into a solid material that can be used or landfilled and a high-quality distillate that can be reused.
  • Solid Landfill Water Management: Exploring water issues related to managing on-site landfills with the addition of new solids such as zero-liquid discharge salts and sludges.
  • Carbon Technology Water Issues: Developing models to determine the impacts of various post-combustion, carbon-capture technologies on the use of water at the plant site to reduce the impact of CO2 capture on plant water use.
  • Water Modeling, Monitoring & Best Management Practices: Using results from each of the focus areas to model strategies for managing water use/reuse and to explore tools for evaluating overall water use (baseline and real time).

The center is an extension of a pilot project that began in May 2010 at Plant Bowen to identify opportunities to address water withdrawal, consumption and recycling.

Georgia Power is the largest subsidiary of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), one of the nation’s largest generators of electricity. 

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.