Theme: Water Quality 

Theme Lead: David Horsup

Water is essential for life on our planet. It is generally taken for granted in the developed world, however access to fresh water is becoming extremely limited in many countries, including here in the US. Water usage has increased at more than twice the rate of population growth in the last century, and an increasing number of regions are reaching the limit at which water services can be sustainably delivered. Essentially, demographic growth and economic development are putting unprecedented pressure on our finite water resources. By 2025, 1.8 billion people are expected to be living in countries or regions with “absolute” water scarcity (<500 m3 per year per capita), and two-thirds of the world population could be under “stress” conditions (between 500 and 1000 m3 per year per capita)

Ref: Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Water Scarcity Report, 2020.



In a landmark study in 2013, Professor Smalley from Rice University, identified the top ten challenges facing humanity.  Number one and two on that list were the access to energy and fresh water, respectively.  These two are inextricably linked – energy is needed to produce fresh water and water is critical to the production of energy.  As the world grapples with the effect of climate change and the energy transition, the need for responsible water usage and reuse is critical.

Today, on average, three barrels of water are produced for every barrel of oil produced globally.  This water is often disposed of, but opportunities exist to recycle and reuse that water through the application of technology.  This is critical, since much of the global oil production comes from regions that are experiencing significant water stress.  Produced water has the potential to be a valuable resource rather than a waste stream.
Water is the common thread that connects all people, all countries and all industries.  There are tremendous opportunities to share technologies, experiences and technical needs across this vast community.  Specific technology areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • On-line sensors for measuring properties of the water (corrosion, inorganic scaling, microbiological activity, organic content etc.)
  • In situ chemical analysis
  • Recycle equipment and processes
  • Data analytics and artificial intelligence
Water Workshop

Recently, the TCC facilitated a water workshop at the headquarters of Ecolab / ChampionX in Houston.  It brought together scientists and engineers of large corporations, start-up companies and academia.  During the event, the following strategic water challenges were identified:

  • Water Quality Monitoring
  • Water Purification
  • Water Challenges in the Energy Sector
  • Water Reuse
  • Recycle and Reclamation
  • Desalination, General Industrial Water Challenges

As a result of this, 19 potential collaborations were identified aligned with these areas. Several partnerships were formalized after the event and are currently on-going.

The criticality of water in our lives and the fact that it touches all people and industries is why the Technology Collaboration Center has specifically called Water out as a strategic technology theme for cross-industry collaboration.  Other themes identified include, Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, Imaging, Wearable Technologies, AI/VR and Robotics and the Oil & Gas Production Platform of the Future.

The world is facing many challenges and access to clean water is one of the most pressing.  Through collaboration, we have an opportunity to accelerate the pace of innovation and amplify our impact.  This is the essence of why the TCC was formed.