Water-Efficient Power Generation

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OPEN 2012
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Project Term:
04/01/2013 - 06/30/2014

Critical Need:

Water is essential for many forms of power generation; at power plants it is the working fluid used to carry thermal energy and deliver power. It is also widely used to cool steam turbine exhaust. Cooling represents the largest and most critical use of water at power plants, accounting for 85-90% of a plant’s water consumption. While water-based cooling is typically the most efficient and cost-effective method where water is available, significant demand for process water is increasingly seen as unsustainable in many parts of the country. This dilemma is the motivating force for pursuing large-scale, dry cooling of power plants.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (UND-EERC) is developing an air-cooling alternative for power plants that helps maintain operating efficiency during electricity production with low environmental impact. The project addresses the shortcomings of conventional dry cooling, including high cost and degraded cooling performance during daytime temperature peaks. UND-EERC’s device would use an air-cooled adsorbent liquid that results in more efficient power production with no water consumption. The technology could be applied to a broad range of plants including fossil, nuclear, solar thermal, and geothermal.

Potential Impact:

If successful, UND-EERC’s advanced dry cooling device would directly address the relationship between power generation and water consumption, helping to establish the U.S. as a global leader in the worldwide market for advanced power plant dry cooling.


Improving the efficiency of water use during power generation would protect our energy generating capacity from unpredictable weather patterns and the potential long-term impacts of climate change.


The technology promotes the efficient and sustainable use of U.S. energy resources by enabling improved dry cooling performance compared to currently available technology.


Development of this disruptive dry cooling technology within the U.S. will ensure our nation’s technological leadership in a vital worldwide market.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. James Klausner
Project Contact:
Dr. Christopher Martin
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Project Contact Email:

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