Intensification and energy minimization of seawater reverse osmosis desalination through high-pH operation: Temperature dependency and second pass implications

Hadas Segal, Liat Birnhack*, Oded Nir, Ori Lahav

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Operation of seawater reverse-osmosis (RO) desalination using high flux membranes at pH > 9 was shown to be an energy-efficient approach for single-pass boron removal. This operational approach was previously studied only at 25 °C, however since RO desalination is highly temperature-dependent, the current work tested the high-pH approach throughout the typical temperature range of the Mediterranean Sea. Since total dissolved solids (TDS) removal in a high-flux-membranes single-pass is limited, the effect of applying a 2nd RO pass was also examined. Finally, the process cost was assessed at varying operational conditions. Results showed 1st pass permeate TDS to be ∼440, 290 and 200 mg/l at 54% recovery-ratio and 31, 25 and 15 °C, respectively. Boron removal was adequate (i.e. <0.4 mgB/l in permeate) at pH 9.5 throughout the temperature range. However, at 31 °C antiscalant had to be added to prevent Mg(OH)2 scaling. TDS and boron concentrations in the 2nd-pass permeate met the threshold limit (30 mg/l and 0.5 mgB/l) at 90% recovery ratio. The cost of applying the single-pass alternative process was lower by about $0.03/m3 permeate than the conventional alternative, for temperatures lower than 28 °C. The addition of a second pass increased the operational cost merely by a ∼$0.03/m3, making the described two-pass process competitive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-91
Number of pages8
JournalChemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification
Volume131
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Boron removal
  • Low SEC
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Seawater desalination
  • high-pH 1st pass

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