Water treatment is energy intensive, affecting sustainability efforts

Water reuse treatment, and particularly to potable water quality, is energy- and water-intensive, costly, and generates waste and emissions.

  • Do you agree this is a major barrier to water reuse?
  • Do you know of any specific innovations currently trying to address this problem?

@Mehta, @ShwayComs, I wonder if you’re aware of any innovations that are currently being pioneered to address this problem? Could be large- or small-scale, public or private.

WE are a company which developed a patent for all the problemas for water you are mentioning that you want to develop a prize. We are interested to show our technology that soon will be used in some countries in Latinamerica. Sustainability-quality-cost-size-reuse-renovable energy

Thank you for sharing, @GREENLY!

@CloudWater, you may have insight on this discussion as well.

It seems to me that AirHES easily solves this problem:

  • Water from the clouds is an ideal fresh water (practically distillate), which was cleaned by solar energy when it evaporates naturally.
  • This water is publicly available, since clouds occupy ~ 67% of the planet’s surface, and you can get this water almost anywhere relatively cheaply.
  • Moreover, you do not waste energy, but on the contrary, you can simultaneously receive it in the form of green renewable hydropower.
  • In addition, this water is cold, clean and supplied under high natural pressure, which allows it to be used in existing communal networks without any additional treatment.
  • At last, the resource of this water is huge - 11 times more all rivers.
  • The problem of lack of water is not only to find new sources but to treat the poisoning and contamminated ones that keep on contamminating the soil and so on. Greenly is the technology that using renewable energy to clean water without big costs of energy and for the aims of people secluded form sanitary systems. We need to reuse contamminated water and not only to find new fonts.

    @aninim, @willsarni, could I invite you to join this discussion? You might have insights on this question as well.


    As I live in a wealthy and rainy area we have a centralised water system which requires constant monitoring. Which ever smart goals you set for the competition it’s best to take into account the income of the poorer people. One thing I am certain of is that there needs to be cheap monitoring of drinking water quality, such as old smart phones can do, which are being developed.
    Appropriate technology solutions as interim technology until higher incomes make higher technology affordable, and exponential cost reduction.

    As an aside the best way to deliver cleanish water, probably at lowest cost would be to make it rain. A couple of speculative ideas I have put forward under water from air. This would be an universal solution and the source of our drinking water. Chicno’s criteria are good outline for goals

    About @mickwaza “it’s best to take into account the income of the poorer people” - please, look at “AirHES kite for global water supply” page 15 https://cloud.mail.ru/public/MVjn/9G47VgJDr/AirHES_model_en.pdf

    Thanks had a look got gave me an insight.

    @GREENLY @CloudWater Thank you for sharing your interesting insights. The Water Abundance XPRIZE focused on the aspects raised by @CloudWater; As expressed by @GREENLY, in the Water Infinity XPRIZE, we hope to tackle both water accessibility/availability and wastewater challenges.

    @GREENLY Could you elaborate a little on the amount of energy needed per 1L of reused water?

    @mickwaza, thank you for your insight, we do want to take into consideration such aspects so to drive impact. You’ve mentioned “cheap monitoring of drinking water quality” – can you elaborate a little on this? i.e., cheap for who? the government? or do you think it should be done by the user/service provider?

    Thanks a lot for your input. I would like to stress on a very important point. Greenly does NOT use secondary energy but primary energy. We base are energetic needs on thermal energy even form thermic solar panels and not photvoltaic. Ont he other side we could also use if available gas, biogas, steam or wahtever could help us to put the temperature ofour patented tank higher than 70 centigrades. This energy use makes not only save money on energy matters but also to use it efficiently.

    I was thinking of the developments using smart phones,which in the UK when out of date have negligible resell prices, which are for the individual user. I was impressed with mpesa has been taken up in Africa, Asia and created a financial system which is wide spread.
    The developments are easy to find on the web.

    Greelnly I have looked at your website and it looks a great idea for well funded areas.

    Another issue that is coming up in the UK is the changing nature of sewage. Mainly before the waste was organic and therefore could be used as fertilizer when made safe but now the sewage treatment regulations need to be updated to account for the hazards in sewage. Is this the fact that world wide the nature of human waste is changing.
    With human organic waste as Chicno wrote it can be made safe using solar energy direct or in a concentrated form.

    You are completely right.The main problem with the water is the changing of the pollutants. That makes many systems difficult to be sustainable. If it depends on concentrations of chemicals or membranes bacause supervising would be intensice (costly)

    @Ianelliott, @LSanabria, I’d like to give you an opportunity to weigh in on this discussion as well before we move into the next phase of our research. It would be great to have your thoughts on how water treatment affects sustainability efforts, and to learn of more examples of innovations in this area.


    Waste water reuse is a hot topic in Australia with recycled water plants already in operation e.g South East QLD Recycled Water Scheme which is capable of producing up to 70ML per day. These types of facilities operate on a large scale close to sewerage treatments plants and have specific processes to remove contaminants prior to them entering the UF or RO trains. While this type of mass scale processing is needed, the most significant barrier in Australia is public perception. 67% of people support recycled water, just not in their town. A far more attainable solution is smaller scale treatment plants. Food production facilities i.e anyone creating a biomass either animal or vegetable can channel water through a bio-gas digester using the methane to create their own power and then through a treatment process to create recycled water. When scaled correctly the factory can attain energy independence and significant water reductions. In essence the challenge is public perception and the solution is broader than initially thought.

    Thanks, @Ianelliott! Very interesting. I’m curious about this:

    Do you think the reason is general stigma against recycled water?