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Publications and Media

Our mission is to perform rigorous engineering analysis on the world’s most critical resource management challenges. Part of that mission is disseminating what we learn to the world. Here you will find up-to-date links to our recent publications on the right-hand side of the page. Some highlights are included below. If you have any trouble downloading a particular paper, please email Dr. Sanders at ktsanders@usc.edu.

 

Figure 1: How much water does the US energy system withdraw and consume? In this analysis, we present the first detailed estimate of this water usage at the national scale. Included is a 200 page SI of absolute and water intensity data that we hope will be of value to the research community. To learn more, check out the 2018 ES&T paper published here.

 

 

Figure 2: The US Energy system represents approximately 10% of total US water consumption, annually. Producing primary energy, particularly irrigated corn for ethanol and oil production, represents a significant fraction of this water usage. To learn more, click here.

 

 

 

Figure 3. The US power sector has been experiencing rapid fuel and technology transformations in recent years. Cheap natural gas due to advances in hydraulic fracturing and the declining costs of renewables have put pressure on existing coal plants, while changes in cooling technology preferences have resulted in the retirement of once-through cooled power plants. How have these changes affected regional water use? Check out the map above and learn more here.

 



Figure 4. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas power grid represents a significant fraction of the region’s emissions and water use. Due to the nature of standard datasets, evaluating the overall air, climate, and water impacts of power plants on meaningful temporal scales is difficult. Similarly, since the fleet of generation plant is constantly changing, determining the environmental impacts of generating a unit of electricity is even more challenging. Here we create methods to evaluate multiple environmental criteria with very high spatio-temporal resolution for comparison. Check out the full paper, published in ES&T here.

 

 

Figure 5. A recent analysis concluded that the US consumes nearly 13% of its total annual primary energy consumption on direct water and steam services. That is 25% more energy than is used for lighting in the Residential and Commercial sectors making the water sector an important opportunity for energy conservation. Read the full paper here.

 

Figure 6. Water heating represents nearly 4% of US annual primary energy consumption. Nearly half of the energy consumed for water heating is lost as waste heat. How can we do better? Read more here.