Water Harvesting in Cooling Towers

EPA Contract Number: 68HERC22C0003
Title: Water Harvesting in Cooling Towers
Investigators: Khalil, Karim
Small Business: Infinite Cooling
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: December 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022
Project Amount: $100,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I (2022) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Water , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


We are on the path to an extreme freshwater shortage and one of the US’s largest water consumers is cooling towers used in various applications such as HVAC for large buildings, power plants, data centers, and various industrial processes. In cooling towers, water is evaporated to provide cooling. The vapor is released into the atmosphere and typically forms a visible condensation plume as it mixes with the cooler ambient air. The remaining water in the tower becomes more concentrated in salts and pollutants and needs to be treated, at an additional cost. For a building with a million square feet, water consumption for cooling can be up to 20 million gallons/year and can cost about $200K/year. Saving some of this water can have a profound global impact on water scarcity. Infinite Cooling has developed technology that can recover water from cooling tower plumes using electric fields. The technology uses electrodes to charge the liquid water droplets in the plume and applies an electric field to attract them toward a collector mesh. The water is then drained and piped back into the cooling system or used for other applications. The collected water is very pure and thus more valuable than cooling tower make-up water and it can be used in various applications. In this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project funded by EPA, Infinite Cooling proposes to build and test a water collection unit based on its proprietary technology, on a small cooling tower that is similar to towers used in commercial buildings. The testing would be done in-house and would be a proof of concept to show that some of the results we have observed in previous testing can be scaled to the type of cooling towers used in commercial buildings. This technology can reduce water consumption in these systems by up to 20%, reduce blowdown wastewater generation, and eliminate the plumes coming out of cooling towers. The potential savings water savings in commercial buildings with our technology can reach 100 billion gallons per year if it was deployed on all commercial buildings. The total market opportunity is $4B in the US alone. The technology can also be applied to similar cooling towers in other industries such as data centers, refrigeration centers, and light industry.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final