Veolia tops targets in Masdar desalination pilot programme

Interim findings by engineering giant, Veolia, from trials designed to up efficiency and develop renewable energy-driven desalination have already outstripped energy reduction targets the company has reported.

The Veolia trial is part of a series of collaborations between industry players and the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, Masdar. The projects share the ambition to reduce energy consumption using green energy sources.

Veolia’s desalination arm, Sidem, has been taking part in Masdar’s Renewable Energy Water Desalination Programme. Veolia said its plant has shaved 7% from the contractual target initially required by Masdar. It claimed this operational reduction would add a 25% reduction in civil works from a new pre-treatment design which makes the plant smaller and cuts capital outlay.

Sidem has been producing potable water since August. The pilot works under large plant constraints and is capable of handling exceptionally demanding seawater with salinity up to 52 g/l, at temperatures of up to 42°C and with the threat of harmful algal blooms.

“Although these are all new technologies, their development is advanced enough to consider them ready for large-scale implementation. The upcoming optimization phase will allow Veolia experts to push the limits of their system to enhance the design and processes, in the pursuit of even better power efficiency while extending the lifetime of the plant,” said Veolia.

Technologies used in the trial include high performance seawater pre-treatment, combining air floatation and filtration, energy recovery devices, and a new osmosis membrane feed configuration able to deal with high treatment fluxes.

The long-term goal of the Masdar project is to implement renewable energy-powered desalination plants in the United Arab Emirates and the rest of the Middle East North Africa region and to have a commercial-scale facility operating by 2020.

Four commercial partners – Abengoa, Suez Environnement, Trevi Systems and Veolia won places on the programme. They are each developing an innovative pilot seawater desalination plant.