Northwestern University and BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), announced Thursday the initiation of a joint US-Israeli consortium led by both universities for the development of new technologies to solve global water challenges.
The multi-institutional international program called the Collaborative Water-Energy Research Center (CoWERC), will have a total budget of $21.4 million, which includes a $9.2 million grant over five years from the US Department of Energy and Israel’s Ministry of Energy together with the Israel Innovation Authority.
CoWERC is part of the U.S.-Israel Energy Center program administered by the US-Israel Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation.
The team will research, develop and commercialize technology in three areas, the companies said in a joint statement. Those areas are energy-efficient enhanced water supply, wastewater reuse and resource recovery, and energy-water systems.
All CoWERC projects are binational and include university, national laboratory and industrial partners.
“Water and energy are inextricably linked: water purification and distribution are primary uses of energy, while water is essential for energy production,” said Aaron Packman, professor of civil and environmental engineering in McCormick School of Engineering and director of Northwestern’s Center for Water Research. “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.”
Professor Packman co-directs CoWERC with Moshe Herzberg, professor of environmental engineering at the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) at BGU.
“Interestingly, urban wastewater contains more energy than the amount needed for its purification,” said Prof. Herzberg “Our aim is to recover this energy, along with nutrients, and reuse the treated water.”
Technology development efforts will be completed with pilot testing at water and wastewater facilities in both Israel and the US. After being validated, the new technologies could potentially be implemented around the world, the companies said.
“We are excited to launch this unique water-energy binational initiative together with our partners,” said Amit Gross, professor of environmental and water sciences at the Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and director of ZIWR. “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.”
The highly collaborative consortium includes partners from leading research institutions, water utilities and private companies. Led by Northwestern University, the US team includes Argonne National Laboratory, Yale University, DuPont Water Solutions, Evoqua Water Technologies, Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, CycloPure and Current. The Israeli team, led by BGU, includes the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Mekorot-Israel National Water Company, Fluence Corporation, and the Galilee Society.