GE ecomagination and Aramco Entrepreneurship have launched an open global technology challenge to accelerate the development of solutions focused on improving the energy efficiency of seawater desalination.
The US$200,000 challenge will be awarded to four winners with a prize of US$50,000 each, and further investments towards commercialisation of the best ideas among all submissions will be considered. Current desalination techniques are typically very energy intensive: energy consumption can account for up to 70% of the desalination costs. The global production of desalinated water uses approximately 75.2 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power nearly seven million homes. The goal of this challenge is to identify novel ways to lower these costs around the world, either through technology advances, process improvements, or both. Nabil Al-Khowaiter, Aramco Entrepreneurship’s director of special projects, said: “Finding a more efficient method of desalinating seawater will be a game-changer in our collective pursuit of a more sustainable energy future across the globe.
“Due to increased water scarcity, countries around the world are poised to rely more and more heavily on desalination as a means to provide fresh water. With current techniques, this increased reliance could contribute dramatically to increased energy use. Aramco Entrepreneurship is partnering with GE not only to identify new solutions to lowering desalination costs, but also to invest in and attract new technologies and industries to Saudi Arabia.” Deb Frodl, GE’s global executive director, ecomagination said: “GE ecomagination is investing to speed up the development of more sustainable solutions for water desalination. Through this challenge, we hope to inspire scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and innovators around the world to bring their talents to this effort and help drive greater outcomes for customers.” The open innovation challenge aims to identify new solutions to lower total desalination costs and emissions through: cleaner energy sources; incorporating advanced materials; and integrating processes better. Solutions must be innovative, impactful, feasible and scalable across the globe. Entries are being immediately accepted at www.ninesights.com/community/ecomagination. The deadline to submit entries is July 16, 2014, and winners will be announced in November 2014. The challenge is the fifth ecomagination open innovation challenge since ecomagination launched in 2005. GE has a successful history with open innovation challenges; most recently launching an advanced manufacturing challenge to use 3D printing to improve the production of a GE aircraft engine bracket and two healthcare challenges to advance work in breast cancer and traumatic brain injury diagnosis. Since its 2005 launch, ecomagination – the company’s commitment to technology solutions that save money and reduce environmental impact for its customers and GE’s own operations – has generated more than US$160bn in revenue. The Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center (Aramco Entrepreneurship) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, which supports high impact entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing non-collateralised loans through its Wa’ed loan programme and equity investments through its Wa’ed VC program. www.waed.net
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