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Design, development and testing of processes of water desalination

The different possible combinations of desalination systems and renewable energies are analysed and tested so as to identify the best option, from both the technical and economic point of view.

Description

Many regions of the world, including the Canary Islands, have been obliged to have recourse to desalination in an effort to satisfy the growing demand. The desalination industry has responded well to the increase in demand and is in constant evolution, reducing costs and producing high-quality water.
The majority of innovations in this sector are related to the reduction in the energy demand , which is generally the highest operation cost. However, the energy necessary for the processes of desalination still involves significant quantities. So that desalination continues to be a viable option in a scenario with scarcity or intermittent availability of fossil fuels; sources of renewable energy must be used to power at least some of the energy requirements and continue working on the energy efficiency of the process.
For all these reasons, in the activity that the ITC carries out in the matter of desalination, the different possible combinations of desalination systems and renewable energies are analysed and tested in order to identify the best option from both the technical and the economic point of view. The main objective is the optimization of the autonomous system of desalination according to the existing demand for water (large demands in developed areas, medium demands in island areas, small demands in isolated areas) and of the local conditions where the system is going to be installed.
To be exact, efforts are focused on the following areas of interest:
   • Reverse osmosis desalination powered by photovoltaic solar energy, wind energy, thermal energy, wave energy and/or use of bioenergy.
    • Electro-dialysis desalination powered by photovoltaic solar and/or wind energy.
   • Solar distillation by means of emerging processes and/or with high technical and economic viability.
    • Energy efficiency and energy recovery in reverse osmosis plants.

 


Among the products developed within this activity, the internationally patent DESSOL® - Desalination of seawater by photovoltaic solar energy with storage of energy by means of batteries (PCT nº ES 2004/000568) stands out. This development was the technological basis of installations for the supply of drinking water carried out in villages of Morocco (ADIRA project) and Tunisia (located in the village of Ksar Ghilène). R&D activities D have also been carried out in nationally co-funded projects (DEREDES, CONSOLIDA) or those financed by the European Union (PRODES, MEDIRAS).
In parallel with this initiative, we have also been working on the development and testing of energy recovery systems for reverse osmosis seawater desalination plants under 100 m³/day of capacity.

Target Audience

Private companies. Research organisations

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