This summer, parts of the Midwest and West are experiencing terrible drought, and worldwide fresh sources of water are declining. A new technology unveiled by GE could potentially saves millions of gallons of water a day that would otherwise go down the drain at beverage bottling companies. The technology is a water purifying program called AquaSel, and in initial tests at an Asian bottling plant, it reduced wasted water to less than 1 percent of the total amount brought in.

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To use local water for bottling beverages, companies typically purify it using a process called reverse osmosis, which forces water through a membrane to remove unwanted salts. Normally after using reverse osmosis, the company can use 80 percent of that water for beverage production. The remaining 20 percent contains salt concentrations and is called brine, which is dumped as waste.

GE’s system treats the waste water using a technology called a non-thermal brine concentrator (NTBC). It contains a component that removes salt from the brine and then uses a chemical and mechanical process on the remaining solution to precipitate salt crystals out of it.

The process has significantly reduced the amount of freshwater needed by 10 to 20 percent. That amount may seem small, but when it amounts to millions of gallons saved annually, it can make a huge difference in how water is used and conserved all over the world.

Credit: Charlie Nucci/Corbis