Sustainability

Oral

395034 - Estimating Water Consumption from Thermoelectric Power Generation

Tuesday, June 5
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Northstar B

In the United States, freshwater consumption by thermoelectric power plants is third only to agricultural and domestic consumption. Thermoelectric power plants have a large impact within waterways, as any consumed water becomes unavailable for other water users such as municipalities (e.g., drinking water source), recreational users (e.g., boating, fishing), and wildlife (e.g., fish and migratory bird habitat). Water consumption rates by thermoelectric power plants vary by fuel type and cooling system type, with closed-loop cooling systems consuming more water than open-loop systems. Typically, only closed-loop consumption is considered in studies comparing water withdrawal and consumption for the thermoelectric sector. Additionally, water consumption data (e.g. Energy Information Administration) often report a consumption rate of 0 gallons per minute for open-loop cooled power plants, even though elevated temperature water leads to enhanced evaporation. Direct measurement of consumption via evaporation at open-loop cooled power plants is infeasible, and estimates can vary wildly. As such, we review the current methods for estimating and calculating water consumption by open-loop cooled thermoelectric power plants, and compare data requirements, assumptions, and limitations. This work brings to light the current ambiguities surrounding water consumption by open-loop cooled power plants, filling a gap in the literature and providing decision-makers with more complete knowledge on water consumption by power plants.

Lauren H. Logan

PhD Candidate
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Lauren H. Logan is a PhD candidate and National Science Foundation Fellow in the Energy-Water-Environment Sustainability program through Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is working with Dr. Ashlynn Stillwell to develop novel assessment methodologies for aquatic ecosystem changes as a result of thermoelectric power plant effluent, with complementary policy and economic components. She earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and a BS in Geological Sciences from Ohio University, and an MS in Biological Sciences from Purdue University through the Ecological Sciences and Engineering program. Lauren is the president of the Central Illinois Alumni Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, and a member of the UIUC Engineering Graduate Student Advisory Committee. Lauren was on the planning committee for the 2017 Illinois Water Day. Her work, both inside and outside the university, aims to create bridges between science and engineering, motivating others to be proactive in using science and engineering research to change policy and promote sustainability in areas like the energy-water nexus. Lauren also enjoys participating in recruitment events specifically aimed at underrepresented groups in engineering, such as the SURGE program and WE GO CEE at UIUC.

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Ashlynn S. Stillwell, PhD

Assistant Professor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Ashlynn Stillwell is an Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Missouri (2006), and an M.S. in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (2010), M.P.Aff in Public Affairs (2010), and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (2013) from The University of Texas at Austin. Her previous work experience includes consulting engineering at Burns & McDonnell (2006-2007) and policy research at the Congressional Research Service (2009). Dr. Stillwell received the 2015 Girl Scouts of Central Illinois Woman of Distinction Award in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and has been among the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students. Her research interests include the water impacts of thermoelectric power generation and the energy-water nexus pertaining to urban metabolism and public policy.

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