Combined Water Power: Draft Paper

By Chris Ryan

Combined Water Power is a decentralised water cleansing and renewable energy solution. Small-scale gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) systems deliver electricity to the grid and clean local supplies of waste water through distillation. Discussions are underway with industry and government partners for the development of a pilot project.

In responding to the current and future demands for water within a city such as Melbourne we are already witnessing a change of paradigm about the engineering of water systems. Strategies to reduce demand, by technology and behaviour change, are complemented by new approaches to supply based on a distributed systems approach. That new approach encompasses greater reuse of waste water. However expansion of treatment of waste streams is limited by the context of the ‘water crisis’ – global warming. Any expansion of the water supply that adds to CO2 production is unacceptable.

At the same time as the shift to distributed systems thinking in water a similar shift is occurring in energy supply and consumption. The potential for grid-connected micro-generation of electricity from renewable or low-carbon sources is widely recognised as a significant element in a future sustainable energy system.

In this context there is the potential for the development of modular small-scale gas-fired combined heat and power (CHP) systems, delivering electricity to the grid and cleaning local supplies of waste water through distillation. Such systems could be both efficient in energy terms and in terms of CO2 production.

Constructing a pilot unit should not be difficult as itwould combine established technologies- a simple example of the idea of recombinant innovation.  A network of these combined water and power(CWP) systems could be efficiently serviced in the way that distributed small-scale CHP units are organised in countries such as Finland, through on-line sensors reporting operational data to a central service agency.