Recently, ACT’s very own Dr. Richard Bonner, Vice President of Research & Development, was invited to testify in front of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Energy subcommittee. Representatives from several organizations with links to the energy and water industries (pictured) provided compelling testimonies on the topic, “The Energy Water Nexus: Drier Watts and Cheaper Drops” at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC on March 7, 2019.
We sat down with Rich after his testimony to get his take on the experience.
Pictured left to right: Dr. Vincent Tidwell (Sandia), Conor Lamb (D-PA, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy), Kate Zerrenner (Environment Defense Fund), Dr. Richard Bonner (Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.), Dr. Michael Webber (ENGIE, UT Austin), Dr. Raman Singh (Oklahoma State University – Tulsa)
ACT: Rich, how did it feel to be invited to testify at this hearing?
Rich: I felt honored and privileged at many levels. It was great to have our company’s growth and research accomplishments recognized at the national level. Many of my ACT colleagues that I talked with before and after the hearing felt great pride that one of their colleagues had the opportunity to represent our company in this way. I certainly appreciate the efforts of many people at ACT that have contributed to our growth and success in the energy and water areas. I also enjoyed the opportunity to serve my country by lending my thoughts and experiences to the House committee members. I am humbled that they think my thoughts could help them better create legislation that will impact our great country. The whole experience was very fulfilling.
ACT: Can you briefly describe the Energy-Water Nexus for a non-technical audience?
Rich: Most people don’t realize it, but something like 40% or more of the planet’s fresh water is used to cool power plants. Literally turning off the lights not only saves fuel, but just as importantly, it saves water. Also, without energy, we can’t pump fresh water to our homes and businesses. The Energy-Water Nexus points out that a disruption in either resource, whether energy or water, impacts the other resource. Given the importance of energy and water on our daily lives, as a nation we can’t afford to ignore any challenges concerning the availability of either resource.
ACT: What were the main points you wanted to present? Why are they important?
Rich: To tackle a complex issue such as the Energy-Water Nexus, it will take strong cooperation between the government, industry, and academia. The most important point I hoped to emphasize is that the government needs to continue to invest in various research initiatives that will broadly result in new energy and water technologies so that we can stay ahead of this challenge. From the industry perspective, I would like to see legislation that fits the needs of small businesses such as ours. I hope that new legislation will steer some funding to “larger than benchtop scale” experiments that are closer to utility scales. I would also like to see programs that have more flexible funding rules, especially for small businesses. In particular, I would like to see programs that allow companies to get cost match credit by spending on efforts that will help with commercialization and technology transition, rather than solely on additional research as is commonly practiced.
ACT: Has ACT ever presented at an event like this before?
Rich: This was a new experience for ACT. To be honest, my impression is that small businesses don’t get these opportunities very often. Typically, larger universities and national laboratories are more commonly represented at these hearings and other influential events. It just made this experience that much more precious of an opportunity for us. I hope we get to do it again in the future.
ACT is proud to work towards technological advancements in the Energy and Water related industry. Our R&D work spans from topics in many related areas, included power plant cooling, desalination, combustion, and irrigation. Rich’s full testimony, along with the other witness’ testimony, can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/8Jh5AudpeB4