Posted: July 3, 2020

Applications due October 6, 2020

In recent years a growing number of utilities responsible for clean water have been moving from strict wastewater treatment to water resource management, some formally renaming themselves as water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs). Energy efficiency in equipment, processes, and operations is a fundamental part of this transition, and energy savings in facility retrofits can reach 50 percent. In addition to energy efficiency improvements, wastewater contains about five times more energy than is needed for its treatment, creating an opportunity for new, innovative technologies and approaches to recovering that energy content.

Looking even more broadly than municipal wastewater treatment facilities - across the entire energy-water nexus - water and wastewater contain a significant amount of recoverable chemical, thermal, and hydrodynamic energy content. Treatment efficiencies and energy recovery options across the energy-water nexus create the possibility for a growing percentage of treated water and wastewater systems in municipal, industrial, agriculture, utility, oil and gas and other sectors to achieve net-zero energy consumption, and even to become net producers of energy under favorable circumstances.

Energy is often the second-highest operating cost (behind labor costs) for water and wastewater treatment systems. Black & Veatch’s client surveys indicate that energy costs at water and wastewater utilities account for well over 10% of total operating costs for a large majority of utilities, with a significant number of utilities having energy costs that exceed 30 percent. Increasingly stringent regulations for contaminants are pushing water and wastewater treatment systems to use even more advanced – and energy intensive – treatment technologies. The energy use of these systems is expected to increase by up to 20 percent in the coming decades due to more stringent water quality standards and growing water demand based on population growth. Additionally, water and wastewater treatment facilities, pipes, and related infrastructure in cities around the country are approaching their end of expected service life. Therefore, a unique window of opportunity exists to replace the aging infrastructure with new, innovative approaches to water and wastewater treatment, resource recovery, and water reuse by looking more broadly at interconnected, cross-sector opportunities (i.e. municipal, industrial, agriculture, oil and gas, etc.) across the energy-water nexus to develop water and wastewater treatment systems of the future – advanced water resource recovery systems.

The goal of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to conduct research, development, and deployment on technology innovations that enable advanced water resource recovery systems. Topic Area 1 of this FOA seeks to advance the development of transformative technologies beyond early stage research and development (R&D) to become pilot ready (TRL 4-6). Whereas, Topic Area 2 of this FOA seeks to test currently developed, pilot ready technologies (TRL 6-7) though design, build, and operations in industrially relevant conditions to enable commercialization.

This FOA is being issued by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) as part of the DOE’s Water Security Grand Challenge (WSGC). The WSGC is a White House initiated, U.S. DOE led framework to advance transformational technology and innovation to meet the global need for safe, secure, and affordable water. Using a coordinated suite of prizes, competitions, R&D, and other programs, the Water Security Grand Challenge has set the following goals for the United States to reach by 2030:

• Launch desalination technologies that deliver cost-competitive clean water;

• Transform the energy sector’s produced water from a waste to a resource;

• Achieve near-zero water impact for new thermoelectric power plants, and significantly lower freshwater use intensity within the existing fleet;

• Double resource recovery from municipal wastewater; and

• Develop small, modular energy-water systems for urban, rural, tribal, national security, and disaster response settings.

As part of the WSGC, DOE announced a $1 million Water Resource Recovery Prize to accelerate resource recovery from municipal wastewater across the United States. DOE also announced the selection of the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) to lead DOE’s Energy-Water Desalination Hub, an early stage R&D consortia focused on desalination technologies. This FOA seeks to leverage these investments to further develop technologies for advanced water resource recovery systems.

Information on where to submit questions regarding the content of the announcement and where to submit questions regarding submission of applications is found in the full FOA posted on the EERE Exchange website,

See full solicitation here

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