Industrial Water Efficiency

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Industrial water efficiency focuses on minimizing water consumption and maximizing water reuse within industrial processes. This approach involves implementing technologies and practices to reduce water intake, optimize water usage within operations, treat and recycle wastewater, and minimize water discharge. The goal is to decouple industrial production from high water consumption, ensuring a more sustainable and cost-effective approach.

Impact on climate action

The innovation of Industrial Water Efficiency significantly enhances water conservation in manufacturing processes, reducing water consumption and pollution. This optimization mitigates the strain on freshwater resources, fostering sustainability in industrial sectors. Improved water management contributes to broader climate action efforts by curbing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting environmental resilience.


  • Process Optimization: Analyzing and modifying industrial processes to reduce water usage at each stage, identifying opportunities for water recycling and reuse within the production cycle.
  • Water-Efficient Equipment: Employing water-saving technologies, such as low-flow nozzles, recirculating cooling systems, and closed-loop processes, to minimize water consumption during operations.
  • Water Treatment and Recycling: Treating and recycling wastewater on-site to reduce freshwater intake and minimize discharge, turning a waste stream into a valuable resource.
  • Water Audit and Monitoring: Conducting comprehensive water audits to identify areas of high water use and implementing monitoring systems to track consumption and identify leaks promptly.
  • Water Footprint Analysis: Assessing the total water usage associated with a product’s lifecycle, from raw material extraction to disposal, to identify hotspots and opportunities for water conservation.

TRL : Varies depending on the specific technology or practice, generally ranging from 7-9.

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) Systems: These systems treat and recover nearly all wastewater generated in industrial processes, aiming to achieve minimal or zero discharge, conserving water and reducing environmental impact.
  • Smart Water Management Systems: As discussed in a previous response, these systems utilize sensors, data analytics, and automation to optimize water use in real-time, identifying leaks, predicting demand, and adjusting water usage accordingly.
  • Desalination Technologies: While primarily used for producing freshwater from seawater, desalination technologies can also be applied to treat industrial wastewater, providing a source of high-quality water for reuse.
  • 3D Printing for Water Efficiency: 3D printing can create more efficient designs for industrial components, reducing material usage and potentially lowering water consumption in manufacturing processes.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Process Optimization Strategies
  • Water-Saving Equipment Innovations
  • Advanced Water Treatment Technologies
  • On-Site Wastewater Recycling Solutions
  • Comprehensive Water Audit Techniques
  • Smart Water Management Platforms
  • Closed-Loop Cooling Systems
  • Leak Detection and Prevention Systems
  • Real-Time Water Usage Monitoring
  • Sustainable Water Sourcing Practices
  • Enhanced Industrial Filtration Systems
  • Membrane Technology Advancements
  • Green Chemistry for Water Efficiency
  • Industrial Process Water Reuse Strategies

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Infinite Cooling:
    • Technology Focus: Infinite Cooling specializes in capturing water vapor emissions from cooling towers in industrial settings. Their technology enhances water efficiency by recycling water that would otherwise be lost through evaporation.
    • Uniqueness: Their technology is unique in its ability to capture water vapor emissions at scale, providing industrial plants with a sustainable way to reduce water consumption and minimize environmental impact.
    • End-User Segments: Infinite Cooling’s solutions are particularly relevant for industries with large cooling tower systems, such as power plants, refineries, chemical plants, and manufacturing facilities.
    • Technology Focus: focuses on smart water management solutions, leveraging IoT devices and data analytics to optimize water usage in industrial settings. Their technology enables real-time monitoring and control of water consumption.
    • Uniqueness: They stand out for their integration of IoT sensors and data analytics to provide actionable insights for water conservation and efficiency improvement. Their solutions can help industrial users identify inefficiencies and implement targeted interventions.
    • End-User Segments:’s target segments include industries where water usage is a significant operational concern, such as agriculture, food and beverage production, pharmaceuticals, and semiconductor manufacturing.
  • Gradiant:
    • Technology Focus: Gradiant specializes in advanced water treatment solutions, with a focus on addressing industrial water challenges such as wastewater treatment, desalination, and water reuse.
    • Uniqueness: Their technology is unique in its emphasis on innovative membrane-based separation processes and advanced chemical treatments, enabling cost-effective and energy-efficient water treatment solutions.
    • End-User Segments: Gradiant serves a wide range of industrial sectors, including oil and gas, mining, power generation, and semiconductor manufacturing, where water treatment is critical for regulatory compliance and operational sustainability.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are pioneering the development of advanced sensing technologies and data analytics systems to optimize industrial water usage. They are integrating IoT (Internet of Things) sensors with machine learning algorithms to monitor water consumption in real-time and identify opportunities for efficiency improvements.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s approach involves a holistic view of water management within industrial processes, considering not only consumption but also recycling and treatment methods. They are exploring innovative water purification techniques and closed-loop systems to minimize water wastage and enhance overall efficiency.
    • End-use Applications: The research at MIT has significant implications for industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production, where water is a critical resource. By improving water efficiency, companies can reduce operating costs, mitigate environmental impact, and ensure sustainable water management practices.
  • University of California, Berkeley:
    • Technology Enhancements: UC Berkeley researchers are focusing on the development of advanced water treatment technologies and process optimization techniques for industrial applications. They are exploring novel filtration methods, membrane technologies, and chemical treatments to remove contaminants and pollutants from industrial wastewater streams.
    • Uniqueness of Research: UC Berkeley’s research integrates principles of sustainability and environmental stewardship into industrial water management practices. They are exploring decentralized water treatment systems and nature-based solutions to minimize the environmental footprint of industrial operations.
    • End-use Applications: The research at UC Berkeley has applications across various industries, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and electronics manufacturing. By implementing advanced water treatment technologies, companies can comply with regulatory standards, reduce pollution, and protect public health and the environment.
  • Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore:
    • Technology Enhancements: NTU researchers are at the forefront of developing innovative water recycling and reuse technologies for industrial applications. They are exploring advanced membrane technologies, electrochemical processes, and hybrid systems to treat and recycle wastewater streams effectively.
    • Uniqueness of Research: NTU’s research focuses on addressing the specific water challenges faced by industries in water-stressed regions such as Singapore. They are developing compact and energy-efficient water treatment systems tailored to the needs of different industrial sectors.
    • End-use Applications: The research at NTU has direct relevance to industries in Singapore and other water-scarce regions, including semiconductor manufacturing, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals. By implementing water recycling and reuse technologies, companies can reduce reliance on freshwater sources, conserve resources, and enhance resilience to water scarcity challenges.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Industrial water efficiency solutions are being implemented commercially across various sectors. Manufacturing facilities are adopting water-efficient equipment and processes to minimize water consumption and reduce wastewater generation. Power plants and other energy-intensive industries are implementing cooling tower water recovery systems to conserve water resources. The adoption of zero liquid discharge systems is also growing, driven by stricter environmental regulations and the economic benefits of water reuse.