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Energy-Water Nexus Research Theme:

Clean energy and water are two essential resources that any society must securely deliver. Their usage raises sustainability issues and questions of nations’ resilience in face of global changes and mega-trends such as population growth, global climate change, and economic growth. Traditionally, the infrastructure systems that deliver these precious commodities, the water distribution and power transmission networks are thought of as separate, uncoupled systems. However, in reality, they are very much coupled in what is commonly known as the energy-water nexus.
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Photo Credit (on left): R. Pate, M. Hightower, C. Cameron, and W. Einfeld, “
Overview of Energy-Water Interdependencies and the Emerging Energy Demands on Water Resources,” Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2007.

This energy-water nexus has been studied predominantly on two levels. Numerous governmental and regulatory agencies have discussed policy options supported by data surveys and technological considerations. At a technological level, there have been attempts to optimize coupling points be- tween the electricity and water systems to reduce the water-intensity of technologies in the former and the energy-intensity of technologies in the latter. To our knowledge, there has been little discussion of the energy-water nexus from an engineering systems perspective. There has been comparatively little discussion of the energy-water nexus in terms of integrated engineering system for its management, planning, and regulation as an interdisciplinary concern.

To address these needs, the LIINES Energy Water Nexus Research Theme has made contributions in three areas:

 

Key Achievements in Energy Water Nexus Thought Leadership:


Unlike the established smart grid field, recognition of the energy-water nexus challenge is still taking hold. The
LIINES has been fortunate to advance this conversation:
 
Key Achievements in The Energy-Water Nexus Hetero-functional Network:

Building upon our generalized work in hetero-functional graph theory, the
LIINES has also begun to develop hetero-functional models of the energy-water nexus. This has lead to:
 
Key Achievements in Energy-Water Nexus Optimal Dispatch:

Once we recognize that our already existing energy and water infrastructures are already coupled, we must also recognize the need to optimize their performance. The
LIINES has consequently developed several techniques to provide cost-optimal solutions to the provision of water and energy. These include:

  • The Synergistic Role of Renewable Energy Integration into the Unit Commitment of the Energy Water Nexus (2017): Lead by William Hickman, this work demonstrates that as renewable energy is integrated into an energy water nexus, it reduces operating costs, carbon emissions, and water use.
  • The Impact of Storage Facility Capacity and Ramping Capabilities on the Supply Side of the Energy-Water Nexus (2014): Lead by Apoorva Santhosh, this work demonstrates the positive impacts of energy and water storage facilities not just in their own sector but also their ability to alleviate binding constraints across sectors.

Additionally, we have written several blog posts specifically on the topic of
Energy-Water Nexus @ the LIINES.

LIINES Energy-Water Nexus Research Theme Publications :
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