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Emerging Energy-Reducing Technologies for Desalination Applications

Project: 11-04
Estimated Release: 2015
Type: Report

Program: Principal
Funding Partner:
Total Budget: $688,660 (Cash: $300,000, In-Kind cash and service: $388,660)

Principal Investigator: Dr. Joseph Jacangelo, Ph.D., MWH Americas, Inc.


The cost of water from desalination facilities is significantly impacted by the energy requirements for production; this is especially true for seawater desalination. Drinking water produced by desalination is still considered as among the most energy-intensive techniques for creating a new water supply. Energy recovery devices (ERDs) have shown the ability to reduce the energy consumption of seawater desalination systems by 50 percent over comparable systems without ERDs. Recent advances in ERD technologies have further improved energy recovery to provide 15% more recovery compared to earlier ERDs. These advances have been beneficial for the desalination industry. Other promising technologies may be available that can show similar improvements in energy savings. In addition to the cost benefits realized from energy reduction, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is another benefit achieved by decreasing energy consumption during the desalination process.

Goals and Objectives

The project will independently test the most promising desalination processes or equipment to verify manufacturer claims of reduced energy consumption in order to accelerate industry adaptation of recently developed commercial products or processes by minimizing the time to widespread application.

Research Approach

Task 1: Literature Review. Review and document the state of available desalination technology, including a comprehensive review of the most promising equipment and desalination processes that are being developed for commercial use. This effort will focus on documenting the status of commercial development as well as the promising and mature technologies for testing.

Task 2: Pilot Testing. The pilot test should provide hard evidence on energy reduction of the selected technology that may or may not correspond with the literature review findings of the manufacturer’s claims. Testing will be performed at a desalination facility using the proposed equipment. A detailed description of the presented supporting data, which describes the original testing of the system, should be included. This includes details on the energy savings reported, the operating system, the quality of the waters, and an estimated capital costs of this proposed system. Energy savings should be reported as kWh per year with a reasonable on-line factor for the system being evaluated.

Task 3: Final Report. The Final Report will include a literature review as well as a full description of the research conducted.

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