Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 02:30 PM

Dr. Jane Long

Hearing of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
U.S. Senate
October 20, 2005
Jane C. S. Long, Associate Director, Energy and Environment Directorate
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
University of California

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I am Jane Long, Associate Director of the Energy and Environment Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Our Laboratory is administered by the University of California for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Lawrence Livermore is a multi-program laboratory with special responsibilities in national security and state-of the-art experimental and computational capabilities that are also applied to meet other pressing national needs. In particular, LLNL pursues a broad portfolio of innovative research and development programs in energy and environmental sciences, many of which deal with water issues.

Water issues and their close ties to energy issues are the important subjects of today’s hearings. Both energy and water are constrained resources subject to high and growing demand. They are inexorably linked and understanding these linkages is vital to effective future management of America’s energy and water supplies. Water supply and management uses large amounts of energy; thus, the availability of freshwater resources may be curtailed by insufficient or too costly energy. Conversely, the energy sector uses considerable amounts of water. Insufficient water resources can reduce the supply of energy or drive up costs.

Clearly, thoroughly understanding the linkages between energy and water is prerequisite to increasing the supply and efficient use of both resources. Congress recently took action to meet this need with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and today’s hearing is about two relevant bills, S. 1016 and S. 1860. My comments focus on S. 1860, the “Energy-Water Efficiency Technology Research, Development, and Transfer Program Act of 2005.” It is a vitally important bill and we fully support it. The program defined by S. 1860 builds on Section 979 of the Energy Policy Act, which specifically calls for a DOE assessment and research program to address energy and water related issues.

S. 1860 establishes a well-designed program to assess the current situation, build a roadmap for future activities, pursue energy-water efficiency and supply technology research, development, and transfer to end-users. It calls upon DOE’s national laboratories, working in partnership with universities, other research institutions, industry, and governmental agencies, to develop and deploy the needed technologies. It also defines appropriate mechanisms to steer the activities and advise the Secretary and Congressional committees of program progress.

Most importantly, S. 1860 fully recognizes the need to apply the nation’s best science and technology to ensure abundant energy and water to meet our country’s future demands.
As one of the lead national laboratories identified in the bill, Lawrence Livermore is committed to vigorously pursuing research and development of new technologies, working with U.S. industry to turn them into effective products for the user community, and to teaming with Sandia, Oak Ridge and the other national laboratories to meet this challenge. My testimony will include pertinent examples of LLNL’s capabilities in fundamental and applied science, current research projects, and ongoing partnerships.

Passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides the United States with its first national energy plan in more than a decade. The Act promotes investments in energy efficiency and conservation as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign energy. Affordable and reliable energy is vital to the continuing economic growth of the United States and the well-being of its citizens. Greater energy security is a challenge that calls for a sustained effort in energy technology research, development of more energy-efficient products and new resources, and conservation. The Energy Policy Act is an important first step.

The subject of this hearing is a proposed amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The bill (S. 1860) builds on Section 979 of the Act, which specifies that the Secretary of Energy shall carry out a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercialization to address energy-related issues associated with water and water-related issues associated with energy. It also directs the Secretary to assess the effectiveness of existing Federal programs to address energy and water related issues.
The energy-water nexus. Because the energy and water sectors are interdependent, water supplies may be curtailed by insufficient or too costly energy, and conversely, insufficient water can reduce the supply of and increase the cost of energy. This critical energy-water nexus is the subject of the proposed bill: “to improve energy production and reduce energy demand through improved use of reclaimed waters, and for other purposes.” The linkages between energy and water provide compelling areas for research and development that would substantially benefit both sectors and will require substantial and timely investments in both fundamental science and applied technology.

Water-related issues associated with energy supply and management. Water is an increasingly strained resource, particularly in the West, where population is growing most rapidly and water is least available. More generally, freshwater supplies are dwindling in many parts of the U.S. due to extended droughts, and future supplies will be affected by long-term trends in regional and global temperatures. It is much more than a national issue; water has been and will continue to be a potent source of international conflict. Modernization of urban centers in the developing world, including expanding energy infrastructures, will demand tremendous amounts of water, making it vital to international security that we develop and share technologies with other nations to enhance and better manage their water supplies.

U.S. Geological Survey data show that electricity production from fossil and nuclear energy requires 190,000 million gallons of water per day, or 39% of all freshwater withdrawals nationally. While only a portion of these withdrawals are consumed, the returned water is thermally and chemically affected by its use. Moreover, enough water must be available to sustain energy production and meet other needs. Much of the nation’s energy fuel production is also dependent on adequate water supplies. Energy resource recovery and processing create large volumes of wastewater that require treatment for reuse or disposal. Future shifts to energy sources such as coal liquefaction or gasification, biomass, and hydrogen will place additional demands on water resources.

Energy-related issues associated with water supply and management. Water pumping, treatment and conveyance use large amounts of energy—equivalent to the energy used by the paper or refining industries (about 3% of national energy consumption and as high as 10% in California). Water sector use of energy will likely substantially outpace growth in other high-energy use sectors. There will be greater demand for water reuse and recycling as well as energy-intensive treatment of impaired or saline water sources, a greater need to tap deep groundwater sources, and higher requirements for water storage and transport—all significantly increase energy usage.

The water sector’s demand for energy will also grow due to a deteriorating infrastructure for treatment and conveyance of freshwater supplies, an increased need to treat for harmful natural constituents, such as arsenic and other contaminants introduced into the environment, and concerns over soil salinization and depletion of groundwater. Significant improvements in energy efficiency will require investments in research, development, demonstration and deployment of water treatment technologies for treating an ever-growing number of contaminants.

The proposed amendment to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 establishes the Energy-Water Efficiency and Supply Technology Research, Development, and Transfer Program. The bill (S. 1860) defines a program that provides a means for the Secretary of Energy to carry out responsibilities established in Section 979 of the Energy Policy Act, and it authorizes appropriations to execute the program.

The Energy-Water Efficiency and Supply Technology Research, Development, and Transfer Program is designed to clarify issues at the energy-water nexus and to pursue the development and deployment of innovative technologies at this critical junction. The focus of the program will be more efficient or decreased use of water and energy, and creation of new water supplies through advances in treatment or management.

Four features of the Energy-Water Efficiency and Supply Technology Research, Development, and Transfer Program—specifically called out in S. 1860—are important to long-term success. The program includes:
• Initial development of a water-supply technology assessment to guide the investment strategy.
• A commitment to invest in research and development of needed technologies together with their deployment for real-world applications.
• Effective use of the Department of Energy national laboratories in partnership with universities, other research institutions, industry, and governmental agencies to develop and deploy technologies.
• Appropriate mechanisms to steer the activities and advise the Secretary and Congressional committees of program progress.

Water-supply technology assessment. The proposed program fittingly begins with an assessment of the current state of energy-water efficiency and supply technology research and the development of a roadmap. Rapid completion of the assessment and roadmap development is challenging, but necessary and appropriate, given the urgency of the problem. Wide-ranging capabilities are needed to carry out the assessment, including knowledge about water supply and energy systems, expertise in state-of-the-art science and technology, access to systems analysis tools, experience working with technology end users, and an understanding of existing policy and sociological constraints.

There are areas of significant synergy between the energy-water nexus program goals and those of existing programs within various federal, state, regional, and local agencies—and likely large gaps where new research and development investments will be required. Roadmap development needs to consider the perspective, needs, and equity of these agencies and other organizations that are responsible for water and energy issues. There are also important efforts in water research and development at regional, state and local levels, led by government agencies, universities, and other organizations. These contributions need to be integrated with the DOE efforts at the energy-water nexus.

Research and development and real-world technology deployment. A strength of the national laboratories is their ability to tackle a problem—from fundamental science to engineering development—and seek breakthroughs that offer dramatic improvements over current capabilities. Coupled with a multi-year commitment to work energy-water efficiency and supply issues, this attribute is important to long-term program success.

Successful research and development projects alone are not the answer. The proposed program includes investments to ensure that the technologies created through energy-water research and development are deployed successfully by end-users. In addition to technology innovation, the program will support pilot testing and assessment, technology transfer and commercialization, and an assessment of the economic and policy constraints for regulatory and public acceptance. To be successful, a new technology must be economically viable, environmentally acceptable, easy to integrate into existing infrastructure or processes, and compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.

National laboratories leading a broad partnership. The bill proposes that three national laboratories—Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, and Sandia—be designated as “program lead laboratories” and shoulder principal responsibility for carrying out the Energy-Water Efficiency and Supply Technology Research, Development, and Transfer Program. Each lead laboratory will select one or more university partners to assist in program efforts. Based on the technology assessment and the developed roadmap, the program in future years will include appropriated funds for activities at the lead laboratories and program grants for research, development, and demonstration projects. Since at least 40 percent of the funding in FY2007 and beyond are earmarked for grants, the program will be inclusive—drawing on the best of ideas from universities, other research institutions and agencies, and industry.

Concentration of program responsibilities in three DOE national laboratories makes eminent sense. Three is a number large enough to provide diverse viewpoints and a very wide range of expertise and technical capabilities; yet it is small enough to keep the program manageable and provide the laboratories funding on scale commensurate with the need to pursue large-scale multidisciplinary research and development activities. Each of the three selected lead laboratories brings to bear important attributes that will contribute to program success:

• Broad ranging capabilities. As premier research facilities, the DOE national laboratories are large repositories of multidisciplinary expertise and home to many of the world’s largest computers and state-of-the-art experimental facilities. They define the forefront of science and engineering in materials and nanotechnology development, advanced computations, numerical simulation, and detection and analysis of hazardous chemical and biological compounds. These cross-cutting capabilities are essential to solving water challenges.

• Relevant ongoing research and development activities. The lead laboratories have been engaged in both energy and water projects for many years. One particular source of special expertise in water issues at Lawrence Livermore stems from long standing efforts to characterize and cleanup groundwater at the Laboratory (and other superfund sites). These activities in the 1990s led to the development and transfer to U.S. industry of novel technologies for water treatment, including dynamic underground stripping for rapid groundwater remediation, and capacitive deionization (CDI) for removal of a variety of contaminants. Lawrence Livermore’s capabilities in materials science, molecular modeling and separations science continue to fuel develop and transfer of a wide variety of water- and energy-related technologies, as discussed in the next section.

• Interactions with a wide range of partners. The lead laboratories routinely work with sister research institutions including major universities, and transfer the technologies they develop to U.S. industry for commercialization. In addition, water technology programs at the laboratories entail many partnerships with federal, state, regional, and/or local water agencies.

Advisory and review processes. The proposed legislation very appropriately establishes an Advisory Panel to review program progress, help the lead laboratories identify legal and other barriers to implementing technology options, advise the Secretary of Energy on energy-water issues, and recommend program grant awards. Composed of members with diverse expertise, background, and interests, the Advisory Panel will be most helpful to the lead laboratories responsible for carrying out the Energy-Water Efficiency and Supply Technology Research, Development, and Transfer Program. The laboratories will depend on their guidance, and they will support the panel as appropriate to help shape the grant program. The program peer reviews conducted by a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) group also will be important. In recent years, the NAS has completed a wide range of very insightful studies examining water quality and management issues.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has a proven track record in applying its capabilities to the complex water issues facing its nearby communities, California, the West, and the nation. The Laboratory emphasizes bringing expertise from many scientific disciplines to its water technology projects. LLNL scientists and engineers have at their disposal unique facilities for analyzing trace amounts of hazardous compounds, some of the world’s fastest computers, nanoscale characterization and fabrication capabilities, and special software and analytical tools developed for water and/or energy management.

At the Laboratory, water treatment and monitoring technologies are at all stages of development, from new materials at design-stage, based on breakthroughs in separations science, to laboratory and field-scale pilots, to commercial units. These research and development activities are sponsored externally and internally and pursued in partnership with a variety of government agencies, water organizations, and corporations.

Four areas of LLNL’s technology research and development activities are briefly highlighted here: selective water treatment, desalination, advanced sensors, and monitoring/management tools. I also will discuss our partnerships that support and inform these efforts.

Selective Water Treatment Technologies. Present water treatment technologies, such as membrane filtration or reverse osmosis, are energy-intensive and expensive, in part because they remove many compounds in addition to contaminants. Technologies that selectively remove only undesired contaminants can improve water treatment operating costs and energy efficiencies enough to allow many small communities and rural households to use local freshwater supplies that currently do not meet potable standards because of a single contaminant (e.g., arsenic, selenium, perchlorate, uranium, or nitrate).

With the Laboratory’s world-class computing facilities, which include three of the world’s top 13 supercomputers, LLNL has made breakthroughs in the fundamental science of separations technology, developing complex molecular-level simulation models to understand the chemical transport of contaminants through different types of materials. The objective is to design materials that are “tuned” to selectively attach to and remove compounds of choice. Laboratory experts in advanced materials science then test these concepts using a diversity of media, including membranes, ion-exchange resins, aerogels, and aerogel composites. (An area of special expertise at LLNL, aerogels are high-surface area, low-density materials that can adsorb large amounts of contaminants per unit weight and volume.) To date, Livermore scientists have been able to identify, fabricate and test designer materials (e.g., chemical functional groups on membranes) to selectively remove arsenic, metals, radioactive compounds, and hydrocarbons from water. LLNL also has developed a spectrum of energy-efficient portable treatment units. These units, designed to have low capital and operating costs and to operate at remote sites, can be configured to run on renewable energy sources such as solar power.

The Laboratory is also helping municipalities in California’s Central Valley that need to treat nitrate- or arsenic-contaminated groundwater. The water is naturally hard and prone to precipitating minerals, creating plugging problems in the low-cost filter media needed to eliminate the nitrate and arsenic. LLNL is using its geochemical modeling expertise to determine ways to prevent the minerals from forming, allowing these communities to efficiently use these low-cost media rather than higher cost alternatives to meet arsenic and/or nitrate standards.

Desalination. LLNL has been developing technologies to improve the energy efficiency of desalination processes for over twenty years. In the 1990s, the Laboratory licensed an innovative approach to capacitive deionization (CDI) using aerogels to desalt water. In 1995, this technology received an R&D 100 Award as one of the top 100 technology innovations of the year. Next-generation and spin-offs from this original technology are under development, including a concept based on the electrodialysis (ED) process. ED is more energy efficient than reverse osmosis at removing salt from brackish water, but it is still not cost effective enough to treat large volumes of marginally impaired waters. Laboratory scientists are working on developing “smart” membranes for ED. They would be designed to selectively remove only the contaminant of interest. Accordingly, the process would be far more efficient and lower energy costs by 50 percent or more. California state agencies are actively supporting this research and development.

Sensor Technologies. LLNL is applying its expertise in sensor technologies and its national and homeland security capabilities to help water utilities and agencies. In support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, LLNL has recently performed an assessment of sensors and systems currently available to utilities for detection of biological and chemical contamination in water distribution systems. More generally, unique facilities at Livermore are available for real-time detection and response to hazardous releases. They include the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC), the Biosecurity and Nanosciences Laboratory, the Biodefense Knowledge Center, and the Forensic Science Center.

In addition, Livermore is at the forefront of developing new sensors for chemical and biological hazards, including detectors for single molecules of deadly pathogens, and rapid biohazards detection by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Over the past three years, three LLNL-developed biological agent detection systems have earned R&D 100 Awards. Coupling its expertise in electronics miniaturization and materials science, the Laboratory is also developing high-resolution portable chemical sensors, including a sensor for arsenic, based on selective membrane technology.

Water Monitoring and Management Tools. LLNL is applying innovative analytical and modeling tools to monitor and manage water resources. For example, the Laboratory has state-of-the-art facilities for age-dating tritium (helium-3) and methods for low-level detection of tracers and contaminants. Integrated with high-resolution hydrologic models, these capabilities are aiding California in assessing groundwater vulnerability to MTBE and other contaminants in the State’s Groundwater Ambient Monitoring Assessment (GAMA) program. LLNL has and continues to assist the state of California in multimedia analysis for new transportation fuels. In support of the Orange County Water District, LLNL scientists used these methods to determine how long reclaimed water, which was injected to prevent seawater intrusion, would remain underground before withdrawal for potable use. LLNL has also helped stakeholders understand water management alternatives to meet Total Maximum Daily Loads limits in the Dominguez Channel, Long Beach, California. LLNL is supporting the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation by using these techniques to determine if an aquifer in California’s Imperial Valley, fed by leakage from agricultural canals, is a sustainable water supply or could be used for water banking.

LLNL also develops database management tools for water agencies to use to assess and manage contaminated water resources. GeoTracker, a GIS tool developed by the Laboratory and managed by the state of California, provides a public online database of groundwater compositions for all leaking underground fuel tank (LUFT) sites and public wells. Scientists are currently working with a California water agency and the National Water Research Institute on a tool to balance contributions from multiple water sources and manage arsenic loading to a municipal water supply. Another software tool allows water managers to visualize sources, uses, and disposal of water in systems from watershed to national scales, as demonstrated by use of U.S. Geological Survey data to diagram water flows in the U.S. and in some states.  LLNL staff participated in the recent water energy relationship study conducted by the California Energy Commission as part of its 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report.
Partnerships. Livermore researchers collaborate with a wide variety of partners including many universities across the nation and industry, ranging from large multinational to small companies that serve niche markets. Sponsors and federal, state and local agency partners include: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Geological Survey, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Energy Commission, California Department of Water Resources, and California State Water Resources Control Board.

For example, LLNL researchers will investigate innovative brine disposal options in a joint project with two California water districts interested in pursuing brackish water desalination as a new water source. Also involving university researchers for membrane testing and an engineering firm, this project will receive state funding as well as contributions from the lead partners. Our many university/research institution partners include: Arizona State University, Hunter College, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, University of Arizona, University of California (UC) Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Los Angeles, UC Merced, UC San Diego Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC Santa Cruz, UC Cooperative Extension, University of Texas, Austin, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

A significant fraction of public drinking water supply wells in the State of California are contaminated by nitrate, the single most reported contaminant in public wells. Using internal funding, LLNL researchers have been investigating nitrate transport and assimilative capacity in groundwater basins. Working with water agencies, academic institutions, an agricultural outreach organization, and supporting students, LLNL conducted studies in both urbanized groundwater basins and at dairy farms. The significance of the work has been recognized by follow-on funding from the State Water Resources Control Board. Our many water utility partners include: City of Modesto, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Zone 7, Dublin San Ramon Water District, East Bay Municipal Utilities District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Alameda County Water District, City of Ripon, Grayson, San Benito County Water District, and Orange County Water District.

A licensee of LLNL’s capacitive deionization technology has just announced an agreement for development and manufacturing of the key aerogel material that is the heart of the company’s product.  Given the commercial viability of the technology, LLNL researchers are working on next-generation innovations to improve performance and efficiency. Private industry/consortia partners include: CDT Systems, Balance Hydrologic, Perlorica, Tetra Tech, Boyle Engineering, Malcolm Pirnie, Crystal Clear Technologies, RMC Water and Environment, and the National Water Research Institute.

Our Laboratory is fully supportive of S. 1860, the “Energy-Water Efficiency Technology Research, Development, and Transfer Program Act of 2005.” It is an important bill; America’s current and future needs for abundant energy and water will only be met by pursuing innovative science and technology to address energy and water issues.

S. 1860 establishes a well-designed program to assess the current situation, build a roadmap for future activities, and pursue energy-water efficiency and supply technology research, development, and transfer to end-users. The program makes effective use of DOE national laboratories working in partnership with others to develop and deploy technologies. It also defines appropriate mechanisms to steer the activities and advise the Secretary and Congressional committees of program progress. S. 1860 is an important element in planning for our nation’s water and energy future.