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Research article // Cooling water use in thermoelectric power generation and its associated challenges for addressing water-energy nexus

By Shu-Yuan Pan, Seth W. Snyder, Aaron I. Packman, Yupo J. Lin and Pen-Chi Chiang. In this review, the authors provide an overview of the water-energy nexus in thermoelectric power plants. They then focus on the general design and operations of water cooling systems in thermoelectric power plants. The authors summarize the average water requirements for several cooling systems in thermoelectric power generation, and identify the challenges of wet cooling systems in addressing the water-energy nexus. Two example challenges are compliance with zero liquid discharge and the role of energy-efficient technology for water reuse. The authors also discuss and summarize the chemistry criteria of feed water quality for cooling systems to ensure the use of reclaimed water as makeup water in cooling systems. Finally, they suggest opportunities to maximize the efficiency of water and energy use for cooling systems in a thermoelectric power plant using a fit-for-purpose approach, retrofit cooling technologies, and green chemistry practices.

category Research Papers, Publications and Books tag Water tag Desalination tag Energy tag Renewable Energy tag Economy tag Waste treatment
Key components of water and energy management

Key components of water and energy management based on six interrelated aspects. Acronyms: RE (renewable energy), O&M (operation and maintenance), and FIT (feed-in tariff). Source: The authors

Highlights

  • Global average energy intensity associated with water facilities are summarized.
  • Average water requirements for cooling in thermoelectric power plants are reviewed.
  • Opportunities for improving water efficiency in cooling systems are illustrated.
  • Key chemistry criteria of feed water quality for cooling systems are provided.
  • Electrokinetic water technologies for brackish water desalination are discussed.

Abstract

Thermoelectric power plants traditionally have required huge volumes of water to condense steam from the turbine exhaust. The complex interdependency between water and energy poses new challenges for policy makers to achieve a safe, secure and sustainable supply of water and energy in the future. Cooling systems are the most water-intensive part of the thermoelectric generation process, presenting significant opportunities to reduce the withdrawal and consumptive use of fresh water. Reuse of impaired water for cooling can reduce freshwater withdrawal and decrease water contamination and withdrawal-related impacts on aquatic life and the environment. Here we focus on challenges and opportunities for improving water efficiency in the cooling systems of thermoelectric power plants. First, we present the types of cooling systems in a thermoelectric power plant. Then, we illustrate the key criteria for feed water quality for cooling systems. We use this information to determine appropriate design and operation guidelines for cooling systems. In order to facilitate the use of impaired water in cooling systems, we suggest the key technical issues and available water technologies for brackish water desalination.

Keywords

Water consumption; Water withdrawal; Energy-efficient technology; Zero liquid discharge; Fit-for-purpose use

Published

June 2018

By

Water-Energy Nexus

Citation

Pan, S.-Y., Snyder, S. W., Packman, A. I., Lin, Y. J., & Chiang, P.-C. (2018). Cooling water use in thermoelectric power generation and its associated challenges for addressing water-energy nexus. Water-Energy Nexus, 1(1), 26–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wen.2018.04.002

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Cooling water use in thermoelectric power generation and its associated challenges for addressing water-energy nexus

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