Energy optimization in reverse osmosis by developing an improved system design and a novel demand response approach
As the number of water stressed regions around the world continues to growth due to a steadily increasing demand and climate change; the use of unconventional water sources, such as, brackish or seawater, through the implementation of desalination technologies has increased significantly. Reverse osmosis has established itself as the most widespread and energy efficient desalination technology, thanks to the development of high permeability membranes, high efficient pumps, and the integration of energy recovery devices; but, it still faces important challenges, such as, high specific energy consumption compared with traditional water treatment technologies, and poses environmental threats due to its significant CO2 emissions and the need of disposal of high salinity brine.
The aim of this research is to address and provide solutions for two of the major challenge areas in reverse osmosis: reduction of the energy consumption and strategies to facilitate its integration with renewable energy sources to decrease its environmental impact.
In chapter 2, the modeling and design of a double-acting batch reverse osmosis system is presented. A reduced specific energy consumption compared with previously proposed configurations was found. Moreover, the new design presents solutions to practical concerns that have limited the implementation of Batch reverse osmosis processes such as high start time and downtime, and permeate contamination. On the other hand, a novel hydraulic modeling is introduced to calculate the evolution of the pressure and other important parameters during the cycle.
Chapter 3 presents a novel method which allows reverse osmosis plants to vary their power usage according to the energy availability, therefore, providing demand response capabilities. The effects on the energy consumption and performance of the reverse osmosis desalination facility due to the implementation of this technique are also studied. The split-salinity demand response reverse osmosis process proposed here poses as the first approach to grant demand response capabilities to reverse osmosis plants that provides energy gains and can be applied to existing plants.