Low-energy desalination trials delayed

Trials of four new energy efficient desalination systems from leading water technology players that could “revolutionise the industry” have been delayed from their summer 2015 start with October forecast as the date when all will be in pilot operation.

The trials, off the coast of Ghantoot, Abu Dhabi, are being run by Abu Dhabi energy company, Masdar. It invited the four international water technology firms to test techniques that could reduce the energy intensity of desalination and form the basis for a large, renewably powered water purification facility.

When the trials were announced last autumn, associate director at Masdar, Mohammed El Ramahi, said the trials could “revolutionise the industry”.

Senior manager at Masdar Special Projects, Alexander Ritschel, was reported recently in a regional newspaper that it will be October before all four prototypes are fully functioning.

Veolia’s 300 m³/d plant is expected to be the first to start operation with an August start date. It will aim to improve on established technologies by integrating filtration and dissolved air flotation pretreatment with reverse osmosis.

Suez Environnement, is about halfway through and is building a second plant with a capacity of 100 m³/d with an start date anticipated in September.

Califonia-based Trevi Systems plans to build a 50 m³/d forward osmosis-based plant while Spain’s Abengoa is building a 1,000 m³/d plant - the largest of the four facilities. Trevi expects to have its plant in full operation in October.

The facilities’ energy consumption will be monitored hourly throughout the 18 months of operation and the quality of the potable water will also be monitored.