Saturday, February 17, 2007

ERI - Desalination - Water - VC - Entrepreneur

Was reading this interesting interview at Sramana Mitra's Blog , Its an interview of HP Michlet, focussing on ERI (Energy Recovery Inc). I am going to list out some of the points that i found interesting for the interview.

What our device does is it recuperates up to 98% of the energy of the brine or the rejected high pressure stream and circles this energy back into the loop. But the practical consequence of this is that we de facto reduce the energy consumption of converting seawater to fresh water by two thirds.

Amazing economics: today, it costs $6-8 to desalinize one gallon of sea water and turn it into drinkable water; with this (ERI/PX - Ceramic pressure exchanger) technology, one is able to do this for 80c.

Desalination world can typically be divided into two camps. One is called thermal which is really an evaporation technology and the other is reverse osmosis.

Middle East has been all about thermal. Just because they’ve had abundant energy and there really has been no opportunity cost attached to this energy

As a function of isobaric technology that we are part of, is that reverse osmosis is going from a historic share of about one third of the market to 60% and I think we will see it stabilize around 80%.

Current state/ Factors influencing:

  • depleted ground water wells

  • increased affluence of the Chinese and the Indian markets

  • increased urbanization

  • global warming an accepted fact

  • rain patterns around the world changes

Desalination becomes a bigger & affordable source of clean water.

Water supply of California is likely to dry up in the next 40 years due to global warming.

Desalination how affordable for california:

  • California, desalinate a cubic meter of water for a total of 1.58 kilowatt hours.

  • Colorado today spends about 1.9 kilowatt hours just to pump the state water project water around to California.

  • In addition to that you spend about 1.6 kilowatt hours just to slush the Colorado River water around in California.

  • energy being consumed by California today just by pumping water around, you realize that it is actually cheaper to use desalination.

26 major desalination projects along the coast of California

So by saying no to desalination plants you are also able to limit economic growth in various areas

Discovery Channel called the PX the most significant engineering breakthrough that you will see in your lifetime.

California is already into a drought

Desalination as such in the U.S isn’t new. But it’s a lot of brackish. If you go to Florida you see a lot of brackish plants.

Next big thing is Osmotic Power

What is Osmotic Power?- where we go from fresh water through a forward osmosis membrane and into salt water. In that process we generate the pressure that will be used to run the turbines which in turn will create electricity. This is the next big wave, I think, for this technology. And this year will be the first major prototype, with an osmotic power plant built somewhere in Europe with our device in it. This is still a few years away from commercialization.

SCOPE: one of the largest utility companies in the world using renewable energy, estimates an annual market of about 1600 terawatts. That should be equivalent to about 50 billion Euros in annual electricity production. It is sizeable and is really a function of the PX that this is possible.

Source: 1,2,3,4,5,6


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