US-Israeli group launches $21.4 million water-energy initiative

New technologies will focus on water desalination, purification and reuse.

Professor Amit Gross of Ben-Gurion University (photo credit: DANI MACHLIS/BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV)
Professor Amit Gross of Ben-Gurion University
BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), in coordination with Northwestern University, have announced the launch of a US-Israel consortium run by both universties with the aim of developing new technologies to be used to solve global water challenges.
The program, called the Collaborative Water-Energy Research Center (CoWERC), looks at the intersection between water and energy; specifically, researchers aim to develop and commercialize technologies supporting energy-efficient enhanced water supplies, wastewater reuse and resource recovery, and energy-water systems.
It is important to understand the connection between water and energy, Aaron Packman, professor of civil and environmental engineering in McCormick School of Engineering and director of Northwestern’s Center for Water Research said.  
“Water and energy are inextricably linked: water purification and distribution are primary uses of energy, while water is essential for energy production," Packman said. "CoWERC will enable us to develop new technologies that will reduce the energy needed for desalination, improve recovery of water and energy, and support safe water reuse.”
"Interestingly, urban wastewater contains more energy than the amount needed for its purification,” said Moshe Herzberg, professor of environmental engineering at ZIWR. “Our aim is to recover this energy, along with nutrients, and reuse the treated water.”
Technology developed by CoWERC will undergo pilot testing at water and wastewater facilities in Israel and the United States, and once proven, can be rolled out worldwide.
The program will have a total budget of $21.4 million. That figure includes a $9.2 million joint grant from the US Department of Energy and Israeli Ministry of Energy, along with the Israel Innovation Authority. It is also being administered as part of the US-Israel Energy Center program by the US-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.
“We are excited to launch this unique water-energy binational initiative together with our partners. Since desalination technologies were developed at BGU, we are ideally positioned to help research and solve some of the world’s most challenging water issues,” said Amit Gross, professor of environmental and water sciences at the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University.