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Reuse of Treated Municipal Wastewater in Power Plant Cooling Systems: Feasibility Analysis

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The shortage of freshwater for cooling has become a serious obstacle for the development of thermoelectric power plants in areas affected by drought, such as western and southern regions of the US. In addition, DOE has estimated the total thermoelectric generation capacity will increase by 22% in the next 25 years. Apparently, fierce competition for water will force power industry to focus on alternative water sources. Municipal wastewater is often regarded as the most abundant and accessible alternative water source. This study was designed to evaluate if the treated municipal wastewater is available to power industry in sufficient quantities and at appropriate locations to meet their needs for cooling water. Datasets from 17864 publicly owned treatment works and 110 proposed power plants were included in a geographic information system and evaluated through GIS analysis tools. Geographical analysis revealed that 81% of the proposed power plants would have sufficient cooling water supply from POTWs within a 10 mile radius, while 97% of the proposed power plants would be able to meet their cooling water needs with POTWs located within 25 mile radius of these plants. In addition, over 80% of all proposed power plants can meet their cooling water needs by accessing just one fairly large POTW within a 10 mile radius. Based on all this information, it can be concluded that treated municipal wastewater could be an important resource to facilitate future development of the power industry.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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