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Press Release

GE launches global challenge to find renewable energy solutions for seawater desalination

April 16, 2014

  • GE and Saudi Aramco launch global open innovation challenge
  • US$200,000 challenge to accelerate development of innovative solutions to increase energy efficiency of seawater desalination

GE ecomagination today launched a global open innovation challenge to accelerate the development of innovative solutions focused on increased energy efficiency in seawater desalination. Four winners will be awarded a prize of $50,000 each and the possibility of further commercialisation for the best ideas.

The open innovation challenge aims to identify innovative, impactful and scalable new solutions to lower total desalination costs and emissions through cleaner energy sources; incorporating advanced materials; and integrating processes better. Current desalination techniques are typically energy intensive, with energy consumption accounting for 70% of the desalination costs. The global production of desalinated water uses approximately 75.2 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power nearly seven million homes.

Irshaad Hakim, Regional Lead, ANZ Power and Water said: "Finding more efficient methods of desalinating seawater will be a game-changer for the industry and aid our pursuit of a more sustainable energy future. Water is a critical, scarce resource in Australia and uncovering more efficient ways to power desalination will benefit communities across the globe as well as here in Australia. By calling for input from the global engineering, technology and academic communities, we aim to collectively problem solve to progress new solutions to meet future challenges."

The global open innovation challenge is the third since the launch of GE ecomagination in 2005.

Deb Frodl, GE's global executive director if ecomagination said: "GE ecomagination is investing to speed up the development of more sustainable solutions for water desalination. Through this challenge, we hope to inspire scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and innovators around the world to bring their talents to this effort and help drive greater outcomes for customers."

Entries are being immediately accepted at The deadline to submit entries is 16 July 2014, and winners will be announced in September 2014. They will be selected by a panel of GE and Saudi Aramco judges.

Since its 2005 launch, ecomagination -- the company's commitment to technology solutions that save money and reduce environmental impact for its customers and GE's own operations -- has generated more than US$160B in revenue. GE's own operations have seen a 34 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 2004 and a 47 percent reduction in freshwater use since 2006, realizing US$300M in savings. Building off this success, in February of 2014, GE renewed its ecomagination focus by committing to reduce GE's GHG emissions and freshwater use by 20 percent, from the 2011 baseline, by 2020 and announcing the continuation of GE's R&D investment committing to invest US$10B additional in ecomagination technologies to reach a total investment of $25B by 2020.

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