Open Innovation: Your Research Could Help Avert Widespread Water Scarcity

Open Innovation: Your Research Could Help Avert Widespread Water Scarcity

August 03, 2014 at 06:08pm

Here’s a riddle: What substance covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, and yet we humans still don’t have enough of it? It’s not clouds or air. It’s water, and part of the reason for this apparent contradiction is that ocean water accounts for 97% of all water on Earth.

This puzzle is at the heart of an exciting global open-innovation challenge currently underway. To encourage the development of new, energy-efficient seawater desalination solutions, GE and the Aramco Entrepreneurship Center have launched an ecomagination challenge: “Renewable energy solutions for seawater desalination.”

Up to US$200,000 in prize money to as many as four entries will be awarded. Submissions can be made through August 19 and the winner(s) will be announced in September.

Some striking statistics convey the urgency of the global water crisis. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says that water scarcity is a pressing reality for more than 40% of the world’s population. And while our oceans are full of water, approximately 70% of the costs associated with current desalination technologies are related to the electricity needed to run the plants.

The water crisis is all the more pressing in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. MENA has 6.3% of world’s population but access to only 1.4% of the world’s renewable fresh water, while in Turkey, water shortages and drought could impact 15 million people.

While water conservation and reuse are key to addressing the water poverty gap, finding a more energy and resource efficient source of water also is vital.

If you are a researcher or work for an institute that is exploring innovative energy-efficient desalination technologies, submit your application to the ecomagination challenge by clicking here.

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