Clean Power

Published on April 28th, 2014 | by Derek Markham


GE + Saudi Aramco Ecomagination Challenge

April 28th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Ecopreneurist.

dunes from namib desert meeting atlantic ocean

Lack of access to freshwater is a major touchpoint of our times, as we require it for drinking, washing, and a wide variety of industrial processes, and one of the biggest challenges facing nations in arid regions is supplying fresh potable water in a cost-effective and energy-efficient manner.

Because the largest source of water for many countries is the ocean, using seawater desalination plants to render the ocean’s water drinkable has become the focus for many countries, but the process is an energy-intensive one, which creates yet another issue. To make desalination a more sustainable water solution, it needs to be more energy-efficient, or to be powered, at least in part, through renewable energy, in order to not significantly contribute to increased energy use to supply one of our most precious resources.

“Desalination works by pushing salt water pressurized up to 1,000 pounds per square inch through a superfine membrane, which stops the larger salt molecules and lets fresh water through. Because of all that pressure and pumping, energy consumption adds up to 70 percent of the cost of desalination. The process gobbles up globally 75 terawatts of electricity, enough to power almost 7 million homes.” – GE Reports

To spur innovation in seawater desalination, GE and Saudi Aramco have partnered on an open innovation challenge that seeks to use “innovative renewable energy processes or new materials” to significantly lower the cost of the process, and in so doing, to also reduce the energy input needed for supplying fresh water from the ocean.

The GE + Saudi Aramco ecomagination Challenge is offering $200,000 in prizes, plus the opportunity to collaborate with the companies to develop their energy-efficient seawater desalination solutions. The four winners of the challenge will receive $50,000 each and the possibility for further investment to fully develop and scale their proposed solutions to a commercial level.

“The goal of this quest is to identify novel ways to lower desalination costs. These approaches might include development of new advanced materials, innovative uses of renewable energy, and/or integrating desalination with processes like mineral recovery.”

To submit your energy-efficient or renewable energy powered seawater desalination solution to this challenge, which runs through July 16th, 2014, see GE + Saudi Aramco ecomagination Challenge.

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

  • Gary Noland

    Banned by Bob,

    I agree with you. Please visit and then suggest to me how I can get this project off the ground. It is stuck at ZERO.

    Gary Noland

  • innertmz

    One of the solutions inspired by nature is the seawater greenhouse technology, just the water problem can’t work as a cause, if you find a stand alone solution for it, then you generate other problems down the line. In the case of desalination, the salts become the problem. Brine water is channeled back to the oceans and the increased salinity devastates marine ecosystems the question then becomes what to do with all the salts add infinitum… Watch a nice presentation of how to tackle the water desalination and many other problems..


  • Banned by Bob

    So the X Prize offered a $10MM prize for someone to launch a space rocket.

    And GE and the Saudis can only come up with $200K to solve arguable one of our largest challenges on Earth? Pitiful.

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