The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded the National Alliance for Water Innovation — of which Texas A&M University is a part — a $100 million, five-year Energy-Water Desalination Hub as part of the DOE’s efforts to address water security issues in the U.S.

The National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) is a research consortium with more than 35 members, including three national research laboratories, 19 university partners and 10 founding industry partners, according to a Texas A&M press release. Baylor University, Rice University and the University of Texas are also part of the NAWI consortium.

The desalination hub will focus on “early-stage research and development for energy-efficient and cost-competitive desalination technologies,” according to the release. Desalination is the process of removing salt from seawater. The NAWI team will work on developing technologies that treat seawater, brackish water and produced waters, for use in municipal, industrial, agricultural and other supply needs.

Shankar Chellam from the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering is lead researcher for the Texas A&M team, which includes researchers from the departments of chemistry, chemical engineering and materials science and engineering.

Chellam said the DOE’s goal is a sharp energy reduction of desalination technologies.

“This grant forces us to step out of our comfort zone working in individual labs. I feel like I can actually do something to make a clear substantial difference in my lifetime at a large scale,” Chellam said in a release.

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