Hydrofinity: Improving the Water-Energy Nexus in Thermoelectric Power Plants
By Christopher Chong
Senior Category (Grades 11-12)
Innovation | Environment, Physics
The world is on the path to an extreme water shortage by the year 2030, and the number one users of water on the planet are thermoelectric power plants which account for 40% of global water demand and $40 billion dollars in costs. Cooling towers take the hot water from the power plant water cycle, and evaporate a portion of it, which cools down the remaining water. However, the vapor that escapes is lost permanently, forming thick plumes above cooling towers, with current recovery methods in cooling tower being virtually non-existent.
My patent-pending project revolves around engineering an efficient method of recovering the massive amounts of water that are lost as vapor in thermoelectric powerplants. Through applying the physics of electrostatics, aerodynamics, and utilizing the core concepts found in traditional fog fences and electrostatic precipitators, I was able to create a device that could be retrofitted onto existing cooling towers and save the millions upon millions of gallons of water that are traditionally lost in a single tower at an efficiency rate of up to 80%.
In places everywhere from third to first world country, this unique system has the potential to transform the way potable water is accessed and how the world approaches the global water crisis, in a way that hasn’t been done before. This system would prevent plants from getting shut down or even having to curb energy generation due to plume regulations, as it reduces the plume expelled by a significant margin.