Global technology challenge seeks energy-efficient seawater desalination solutions

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NEW YORK, NY, April 16, 2014 -- On Tuesday, April 15, GE ecomagination and Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship launched an open global technology challenge to accelerate the development of solutions focused on improving the energy efficiency of seawater desalination. The $200,000 endeavor will award four winners with a prize of $50,000 each and acknowledge further investments towards commercialization of the best ideas among all submissions.

The open innovation challenge aims to identify new solutions to lower total desalination costs and emissions through incorporating cleaner energy sources, advanced materials and more efficient processes. Solutions must be innovative, impactful, feasible, and scalable across the globe.

Current desalination techniques are typically very energy-intensive, where energy consumption can account for up to 70 percent of desalination costs. Further, the global production of desalinated water uses approximately 75.2 terawatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power nearly 7 million homes. The goal of this challenge is to identify novel ways to lower these costs around the world, either through technology advances, process improvements or both.

"With current techniques, this increased reliance could contribute dramatically to increased energy use," said Nabil Al-Khowaiter, Aramco's director of special projects. "Aramco Entrepreneurship is partnering with GE not only to identify new solutions to lowering desalination costs but also to invest in and attract new technologies and industries to Saudi Arabia."

Deb Frodl, GE's global executive director, ecomagination, added, "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 July 16, 2014, and winners will be announced in November 2014. The challenge is the fifth ecomagination open innovation challenge since ecomagination launched in 2005. GE has a successful history with open innovation challenges.

See also: "GE launches 'ecomagination' to develop environmental technologies"

About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit

About Aramco Entrepreneurship

The Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center (Aramco Entrepreneurship) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, which supports high impact entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing non-collateralized loans through its Wa’ed loan program and equity investments through its Wa’ed VC program. For more information, visit


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