Near-shore naval desalination units to be developed

Alion Science and Technology of Virginia, USA, announced on 24 April 2012 that it had been awarded a US$ 5 million contract to develop an advanced, energy-efficient shipboard desalination system for the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Alion will develop plants that include advanced microfiltration, but with lower power, volume and weight than current systems. Two systems will be designed: ≤4,000 GPD (15,140 L/d), and ≤100,000 GPD (378,500 L/d).

While existing systems can operate effectively more than 99% of the time in the open ocean, their uptime drops to as low as 50% in littoral and near-shore environments, according to ONR. They are simply not designed to deal with the volume and types of biological and chemical particulates found along coastlines.

Alion will develop and integrate new technologies to bring system availability to 95% in the littorals while also reducing maintenance needs.

Greg Bryant, Alion senior vice president and manager of Integrated Solutions Group, explained that operating in coastal areas is essential to the Navy’s strategy. “We are confident that we can meet ONR’s design requirements and performance goals and deliver units ready for shipboard evaluation,” Bryant said, adding, “Alion’s unique technologies, coupled with our experience developing a prior version of a Navy desalination system, will help provide future combatant ships with the ability to operate for extended periods in both open and littoral waters.”

ONR’s Advanced Shipboard Water Desalination program is being developed through the Future Naval Capabilities program. Full prototype demonstrations are expected in 2014.