Mapping of a Novel Zero-Liquid Discharge Desalination System Based on Humidification–Dehumidification onto the Field of Existing Desalination Technologies

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2022-08-30

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Romo, S.A.; Elhashimi, M.; Abbasi, B.; Srebric, J. Mapping of a Novel Zero-Liquid Discharge Desalination System Based on Humidification–Dehumidification onto the Field of Existing Desalination Technologies. Water 2022, 14, 2688.

Abstract

It is well-established that increasing demands for fresh water are paving the way for desalination technologies. However, this correlates with an increase in brine production whose treatment and disposal can be complicated and expensive. This paper presents a thermodynamic model to bound the operation and development of a novel Humidification–Dehumidification-based system featuring Zero-Liquid Discharge and off-grid capabilities. The model employs conservation laws to find feasible state points to meet a baseline operation of 10 kg/h of product water separated from a hypersaline feed stream with 100 g/kg salt concentration. The system incurs in a 1039 kWh/m3 energy intensity that can be supplied completely by an electric source or in combination with heating steam. Follow-up sensitivity analysis highlights the robustness of the system in handling variations of 25% in product flowrate and 75% in feed salinity, practically without incurring any additional energy demands. The proposed system operating costs between 72 USD/m3 and 96 USD/m3 are comparable to those of existing brine disposal techniques. Furthermore, an operational map of existing desalination technologies suggests a niche characterized by high recovery rates and high feed salinities that are generally unfulfilled by conventional desalination methods. Overall, the proposed system shows potential for off-grid hypersaline brine treatment. This study sets the stage for future development of physics-based and data-driven predictive models as the proposed system iterates into a pilot plant deployment.

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