Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: Currently, power generation requires enormous amounts of cooling water, ranking second to the volume of water used for agriculture. As an example, a typical 500 MW thermal electricity plant equipped with a cooling tower evaporates 26 million litres of water per day (the equivalent of the daily water consumption of more than 43 000 EU families). Once-through cooling systems consume less water but withdraw significantly more: the same plant equipped with a once-through system would withdraw typically 1.4 billion litres of water per day, returning it to the water source about 10-15°C warmer. Such systems not only impose serious burdens on the local water management and the environment, but also limit the development of distributed power generation (foreseen by the SET plan) by their stringent requirements concerning cooling. The lack of adequate cooling water may even lead to power plant shutdowns.

Scope: Proposals should develop robust materials solutions for optimising cooling in thermal power plants by

·                Allowing their functioning at higher temperatures, thus increasing their efficiency and reducing the amount of water withdrawn or consumed;

·                Allowing the use of alternative cooling fluids (including air-based or hybrid coolants); and

·                Increasing the available effective water supply, either by permitting to upgrade the quality of the water (e.g. using membranes) or by improving the robustness of the cooling equipment. Proposals should include activities to test the proposed solutions in relevant existing pilot plants.

Note: Thermal power plants include, inter alia, plants fired by coal, natural gas, liquid fossil fuels, as well as geothermal and solar thermal plants. Non-thermal power plants, such as wind turbines or PV plants/installations consume considerably less water during their operational life; projects should not focus on materials solutions to reduce the water consumption in such non-thermal plants.

For this topic, proposals should include an outline of the initial exploitation and business plans, which will be developed further in the proposed project.

Activities expected to focus on Technology Readiness Level 6.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 6 and 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

·                Significant reduction of the amount of water, in particular cleaner water, used in thermal power plants within one or more application areas;

·                Implementation of relevant parts of the Materials Roadmap Enabling Low Carbon Energy Technologies (SEC(2011)1609); and relevant objectives of the SET-Plan (COM (2009)519).

Type of action: Innovation Actions

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