Applicability of energy-positive net-zero water management in Alaska: technology status and case study

Tingting Wu, James Douglas Englehardt, Tianjiao Guo, Lucien Gassie, Aaron Dotson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Challenges of water and wastewater management in Alaska include the potential need for above-grade and freeze-protected piping, high unit energy costs and, in many rural areas, low population density and median annual income. However, recently developed net-zero water (NZW), i.e., nearly closed-loop, direct potable water reuse systems, can retain the thermal energy in municipal wastewater, producing warm treated potable water without the need for substantial water re-heating, heat pumping or transfer, or additional energy conversion. Consequently, these systems are projected to be capable of saving more energy than they use in water treatment and conveyance, in the temperate USA. In this paper, NZW technology is reviewed in terms of potential applicability in Alaska by performing a hypothetical case study for the city of Fairbanks, Alaska. Results of this paper study indicate that in municipalities of Alaska with local engineering and road access, the use of NZW systems may provide an energy-efficient water service option. In particular, case study modeling suggests hot water energy savings are equivalent to five times the energy used for treatment, much greater savings than in mid-latitudes, due largely to the substantially higher energy needed for heating water from a conventional treatment system and lack of need for freeze-protected piping. Further study of the applicability of NZW technology in cold regions, with expanded evaluation in terms of system-wide lifecycle cost, is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 22 2017


  • Alaska
  • Energy-positive
  • Net-zero water
  • Water management
  • Water reuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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