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NETL Software Tools Contribute to First-of-Its-Kind Publication on Water Treatment
Large body of water at sunset.

By using software tools developed at the Lab, NETL helped co-author “Modeling Framework for Cost Optimization of Process-Scale Desalination Systems with Mineral Scaling and Precipitation,” which was recently published in the journal ACS ES&T Engineering.

Authored by Mayo Amusat of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Adam Atia of NETL, Alex Dudchenko of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and Tim Bartholomew of NETL, this paper is the first publication to demonstrate the mathematical optimization of multiple key decision variables for a water treatment train while modeling detailed water chemistry phenomena like mineral scaling and precipitation. This work was the product of a collaboration between NETL researchers and OLI Systems, a water chemistry software company, which was funded by the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI).

“In the 21st century, water supply and wastewater management faces significant stressors such as climate change, aging infrastructure, growing wastewater production, and rising awareness of human health and environmental impacts from current water management practices,” Bartholomew, one of the paper’s co-authors, said.

“This publication demonstrates how state-of-the-art modeling tools can better evaluate the potential of novel treatment technologies. It is our hope that, as we and other researchers conduct more analyses, decision makers will be better informed when investing in the research and development of new technologies to address the challenges in water management.”

Schematic showing the water treatment train represented in WaterTAP and the detailed water predictions incorporated from OLI Systems.
Schematic showing the water treatment train represented in WaterTAP and the detailed water predictions incorporated from OLI Systems.

The authors generated accurate surrogate models from water chemistry software, specifically OLI Systems, and demonstrated that they are solvable at the process-scale with equation-oriented methods. This work was enabled by the Water treatment Technoeconomic Assessment Platform (WaterTAP) and the Institute for Design of Advanced Energy Systems (IDAES) platform, which are open-source software tools developed by NETL.

WaterTAP advances water treatment technologies by providing a platform to conduct detailed technoeconomic assessments. These analyses enable researchers to identify innovation opportunities, determine technological bottlenecks, and set research targets for new materials, components, and processes by quantifying performance and cost metrics. WaterTAP provides this capability by developing a modular model library for a wide range of water treatment technologies and is built on the advanced process systems engineering platform IDAES, which won the R&D 100 award in 2020. WaterTAP seeks to be more unified, flexible, and powerful than current water treatment software by being open-source, modular, multi-hierarchical, customizable, and equation oriented.

NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.