Researchers hoping to reduce water use at power plants

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Researchers at West Virginia University are testing an idea to help save freshwater resources by combining wastewater from power plants with wastewater from fracking.

The Dominion Post reports the power industry is the biggest water user in West Virginia. Nationally, it is the second biggest, behind agriculture.

Thermoelectric plants use water in heat exchangers. As it evaporates, natural salts concentrate to the point where they could foul the cooling system.

Meanwhile, water from fracking contains other substances that could harm the cooling towers, like magnesium and strontium. But when the two are mixed together, the chemicals combine in a way to precipitate out of the water. This produces clean water to recirculate.

The project is still in its early stages. It is funded by a $400,000 Department of Energy grant.

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