The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, announced recently the winners of the Desal Prize, the second call for Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development.
"By 2050, global water demand is expected to increase by 55 percent, and 70 percent of global water use occurs in food production,” said Christian Holmes, USAID Global Water Coordinator. “The Desal Prize was developed to supply catalytic funding to capture and support the innovative ideas and new technologies that could have a significant impact.”
The Desal Prize challenged innovators throughout the world to create cost-effective, energy efficient and environmentally sustainable desalination technologies that can provide potable water for humans as well as water that can be used for crops in developing countries.
From April 9 to 11, five finalist innovator teams competed for $200,000 in prize funds in head-to-head demonstrations at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, N.M. After rigorous testing and evaluation by a panel of expert judges, two winning teams were chosen. These two teams, and a team that received an honorable mention, will be eligible to receive grant funds totaling $400,000 to implement pilot projects in late summer or early fall with small-holder rural farmers in a USAID mission region.
First Place: MIT and Jain Irrigation Systems designed a photovoltaic-powered electrodialysis reversal (EDR) system that desalinates water using electricity to pull charged particles out of the water and further disinfects using ultraviolet rays. The system was designed for low energy consumption, limiting costs especially in off-grid areas.
Second Place: University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Center for Inland Desalination Systems designed a Zero Discharge Desalination (ZDD) technology that reduces water waste in the desalination of groundwater by conventional processes. Electrodialysis uses voltage to remove undesirable ions from water.
Honorable Mention: Green Desal, a team comprised of the Asian Institute of Technology & Management, National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension, State University of Ponta Grossa, Technion-Israel University of Technology, and University of North Texas, developed a high-percent recovery system that integrates proven technologies in reverse osmosis, ion exchange, nano-filtration, re-mineralization and disinfection.