ATLANTA, Aug. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A new technology that could significantly reduce the water needed for power plant cooling is being tested, marking the beginning of research and development at the new Water Research Center (WRC) at Georgia Power's Plant Bowen in Cartersville, Ga. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120828/CL64010 )(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20050216/CLW066LOGO ) Cooling water is essential for most thermal, or steam-driven, electric generation, which is the primary form of producing power in the United States and globally. Although most of the water withdrawn for power generation is returned to the source, the energy industry is focused on finding more efficient ways to manage water resources. The WRC is the first U.S. research facility of its kind, providing a venue for developing and testing technologies to reduce power plant water withdrawals and consumption and improve the quality of water related to power generation. Operated by the Southern Research Institute, the WRC is being developed by Southern Company and its subsidiary Georgia Power, Southern Research and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), which has assembled an R&D collaborative of 13 companies. "This is the latest demonstration of our commitment at Georgia Power and Southern Company to develop technology solutions for providing safe, clean, reliable and affordable electricity," said Georgia Power Environmental Affairs Vice President Ron Shipman. "The WRC, a first-of-its-kind power generation water research hub at Plant Bowen, is technology leadership at its best." Evaluation of the new technology – a thermosyphon cooler developed by Johnson Controls – is the first project to become operational at the center. According to Johnson Controls, the technology transfers heat to the environment without evaporative water loss by using an air-cooled refrigerant that pre-cools water before it enters the cooling tower. The thermosyphon cooler reduces the amount of water that must be cooled by evaporation in the cooling tower, thus reducing water consumption. The year-long testing at the WRC will document the technology's water savings potential and energy consumption characteristics.