(364e) Infrastructure Ecology for Sustainable and Resilient Urban Infrastructure Design

Authors: 
Crittenden, J. C. - Presenter, Georgia Institute of Technology
Jeong, H. - Presenter, Georgia Institute of Technology, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
Pandit, A. - Presenter, Georgia Institute of Technology
Xu, M. - Presenter, University of Michigan
Perrings, C. - Presenter, Arizona State University
Wang, D. - Presenter, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Williams, E. - Presenter, Arizona State University
Karady, G. - Presenter, Arizona State University
Li, K. - Presenter, University of Georgia
Brown, M. - Presenter, Georgia Institute of Technology
Begovic, M. - Presenter, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ariaratnam, S. - Presenter, Arizona State University
French, S. - Presenter, Georgia Institute of Technology


The population growth coupled with increasing urbanization is predicted to exert a huge demand on the growth and retrofit of urban infrastructure, particularly in water and energy systems. The U.S. population is estimated to grow by 23% (UN, 2009) between 2005 and 2030. The corresponding increases in energy and water demand were predicted as 14% (EIA, 2009) and 20% (Elcock, 2008), respectively. The water-energy nexus needs to be better understood to satisfy the increased demand in a sustainable manner without conflicting with environmental and economic constraints. Overall, 4% of U.S. power generation is used for water distribution (80%) and treatment (20%). 3% of U.S. water consumption (100 billion gallons per day, or 100 BGD) and 40% of U.S. water withdrawal (340 BGD) are for thermoelectric power generation (Goldstein and Smith, 2002). The water demand for energy production is predicted to increase most significantly among the water consumption sectors by 2030. On the other hand, due to the dearth of conventional water sources, energy intensive technologies are increasingly in use to treat seawater and brackish groundwater for water supply. Thus comprehending the interrelation and interdependency between water and energy system is imperative to evaluate sustainable water and energy supply alternatives for cities. In addition to the water-energy nexus, decentralized or distributed concept is also beneficial for designing sustainable water and energy infrastructure as these alternatives require lesser distribution lines and space in a compact urban area. Especially, the distributed energy infrastructure is more suited to interconnect various large and small scale renewable energy producers which can be expected to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In the case of decentralized water infrastructure, on-site wastewater treatment facility can provide multiple benefits. Firstly, it reduces the potable water demand by reusing the treated water for non-potable uses and secondly, it also reduces the wastewater load to central facility. In addition, lesser dependency on the distribution network contributes to increased reliability and resiliency of the infrastructure.

The goal of this research is to develop a framework which seeks an optimal combination of decentralized water and energy alternatives and centralized infrastructures based on physical and socio-economic environments of a region. Centralized and decentralized options related to water, wastewater and stormwater and distributed energy alternatives including photovoltaic (PV) generators, fuel cells and microturbines are investigated. In the context of the water-energy nexus, water recovery from energy alternatives and energy recovery from water alternatives are reflected. Alternatives recapturing nutrients from wastewater are also considered to conserve depleting resources. The alternatives are evaluated in terms of their life-cycle environmental impact and economic performance using a hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) tool and cost benefit analysis, respectively. Meeting the increasing demand of a test bed, an optimal combination of the alternatives is designed to minimize environmental and economic impacts including CO2 emissions, human health risk, natural resource use, and construction and operation cost. The framework determines the optimal combination depending on urban density, transmission or conveyance distance or network, geology, climate, etc. Therefore, it will be also able to evaluate infrastructure resiliency against physical and socio-economic challenges such as population growth, severe weather, energy and water shortage, economic crisis, and so on.

Reference EIA. (2009). International Energy Outlook. Washington DC: Office of Integrated Analysis and Forecasting, U.S. Department of Energy. Elcock, D. (2008). Baseline and Projected Water Demand Data for Energy and Competing Water Use Sectors. The Environmental Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy. Goldstein, R., Smith, W. (2002). Water and sustainability (volume 4) U.S. Electricity consumption for water supply & treatment - The Next Half Century. Palo Alto, California: EPRI. UN. (2009). World Population Prospects.

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