Konstantinos Oikonomou has always been passionate about promoting environmental consciousness. When he began his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at the Utah Smart Energy Laboratory (U-Smart) at the U, he was introduced to gaps in the use of water and energy globally.
“The problem that water and power utilities face is that they have been designed and operated as two uncoupled systems,” Oikonomou said. “In reality, these systems are mutually interdependent. Water is utilized, often in large amounts, in energy sectors for mining, fuel production, hydropower and power-plant cooling. On the other hand, energy is an indispensable component of the water facilities, as electricity is used for pumping, treatment and distribution of water.”
Oikonomou and his Ph.D. advisor, professor Masood Parvania, have developed models that are applicable to different environments, from the U’s campus to countries in Africa, which demonstrate how a joint effort between water and energy utilities can reach to more sustainable operation of the infrastructure, and increase energy efficiency and water conservation. The next step is to apply these models to the real world.
“The final product will be a tool that can take real time control decisions on how to better dispatch energy and water to reach optimal use,” he said. “For example, when excess of water storage due to rainfall or seawater is available, we can use our tools to begin the appropriate water treatment or desalination processes.”
Find this article and a lot more in the 2019 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers and entrepreneurs.