Energy use in water purification as criterion for selecting drinking water treatment technologies
- Subject Areas
- Ecosystem Science, Aquatic and Marine Chemistry, Ecohydrology, Environmental Impacts, Food, Water and Energy Nexus
- reverse osmosis, desalination, multi-effect flash evaporation, scale-up, water quality, energy cost, production capacity, latent heat of vaporisation, membrane modules, pressure requirement
- © 2019 Ng
- This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ Preprints) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.
- Cite this article
- 2019. Energy use in water purification as criterion for selecting drinking water treatment technologies. PeerJ Preprints 7:e27761v1 https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27761v1
Quality of produced water is usually the criterion for selecting between different desalination technologies for turning seawater into drinking water. However, contemporary trend in drinking water treatment sees a convergence between different technologies for the same water quality. Hence, how do different desalination technologies differentiate amongst each other? Awareness of climate change impact as well as price of produced water, energy use per unit of treated water is an oft-used criterion for assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of different desalination technologies. Specifically, comparing multi-effect flash evaporation and reverse osmosis, the latter enjoys a significant energy use advantage given the lack of the need for converting water into the vapor phase as in multi-effect flash evaporation. Thus, energy used in producing drinking water is significantly higher in multi-effect flash evaporation compared to the high pressure process of reverse osmosis. From the operation perspective, reverse osmosis also benefits from its ability to scale linearly in increasing water production capacity through addition of extra membrane modules, which is not the case for multi-effect flash evaporation where a new distillation column is required for significant increase in production capacity. Collectively, with the same quality of water produced by different desalination technologies, comparison between different technologies increasingly relies on the energy use per unit of produced water. Using this criterion, reverse osmosis membrane desalination has a significant advantage relative to multi-effect flash evaporation in energy cost, which translates to a lower price of produced water.
This is an opinion article.