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DESSOL - Desalination With Photo Voltaic Solar Energy

DESSOL - Desalination With Photo Voltaic Solar Energy

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Published by Cognosfera
Seawater desalination plant by reverse osmosis powered with photovoltaic solar energy. A supply option for remote areas.
Seawater desalination plant by reverse osmosis powered with photovoltaic solar energy. A supply option for remote areas.

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Published by: Cognosfera on Jul 26, 2010
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Seawater desalination plant by reverse osmosis powered with photovoltaic
solar energy. A supply option for remote areas
T. Espino, B. Peñate#, D. Henríquez, J. Betancort, G. Piernavieja

(1) Energy, Water and Bioengineering Division, Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias, S.A.
(2) Playa de Pozo Izquierdo s/n –35119 (Santa Lucía) Gran Canaria, Spain
Phone +34 928 727503; Fax +34 928 727517; emails:baltasarp@itccanarias.org;gpiernavieja@itccanarias.org

This paper presents the results of Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias (ITC) project called
DESSOL-Desalination with Photovoltaic Solar Energy. This project is the optimization of the one

first version of the system, which was development in close collaboration with Aachen University of Applied Sciences (Julich, Germany) in 1998 [1]. The DESSOL project proposes a solution for the water scarcity in isolated areas that the conventional electric grid does not reach. We make use of photovoltaic solar energy (PV) to power a pilot sea water desalination system based on reverse osmosis (RO) with a mean production capacity of 3 m³/day (7 operating hours annual average) with no electricity of a thermal origin, but with certain solar radiation conditions. This experience has shown the technical and economic viability of these systems, which can be efficiently extrapolated to other water productions or qualities.

Keywords: Reverse osmosis desalination; Photovoltaic system; Batteries.
1. Introduction

In the last decade, desalination, especially by reverse osmosis (RO), has become one of the principal safe sources of supply of potable water, and even water for agricultural use, in Spain and other countries with limited natural water resources. It is in the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East, and son on, where the potable water supply is a high priority problem. The water resources in these areas are limited and even diminishing, since water becomes saline due to sea water filtrations and there is extensive irrigation. All this leads to the need to identify new sources of supply such as the desalination of brackish or sea water.

However, the installation of desalting plants leads to total dependence on power, meaning that the water-energy combination becomes of the utmost importance, to a point where in many places it is true that “if there is no power, there is no water”. This is where renewable energies play a fundamental role as a new source of electricity to help to obtain the water that is so vital for human use (European Water Charter. Strasbourg, 1968).

The autonomous photovoltaic solar-reverse osmosis (PV-RO) system with power storage and control system presented here is capable of satisfying the water demand of an area isolated from the electric grid (50–75 inhabitants) with a scarcity of potable water. The optimised system [1] has a production capacity of 400 L/h (at 60 bar) from sea water, operating an average of 8 hours per day in the summer and 6 in the winter.

PV-RO systems have been devised which are only simulations based on a design[2-4] or which have been designed and tested with a manual plant in continuous operation [5,6]. Our real installation approaches the model from the automation perspective, using a control programme to manage and optimise the hours of solar radiation available.

# Corresponding author.
2. Location of the desalination plant

The autonomous PV-RO system tested is in the ITC facilities on the Pozo Izquierdo beach, in the municipality of Santa Lucía on the island of Gran Canaria (Las Palmas-Spain). The ITC is a publicly-owned company of the Government of the Canary Islands. Under its Technical Management is the Energy, Water and Bioengineering Division, which is responsible for fostering the industrial development of the Canary Islands in the field of renewable energies and water technologies, facilitating the participation of businesses and acting as a platform for R&D and innovation testing.

The weather conditions at Pozo Izquierdo make it an area of
excellent qualities for R&D concerning renewable energies. The following table (Table 1) shows
some information on the location and its climate.
Table 1: Location and climate data (2001) referring to the ITC facilities at Pozo Izquierdo beach (Gran Canaria).
Orientation of the terrain
Surface area available
109,000 m²
Distance from the sea
<100 m
Maximum altitude above sea level
3 m
Mean annual solar radiation (on hz. surface)(*)
2,044 kWh/m²
Mean annual wind speed
7.8 m/s
Mean annual temperature
Mean annual humidity
65 - 70%
Annual rainfall
105 mm (5 –10 days of rain/year)
(*) Compare with the 1,653 kWh/m² of Madrid [7] and the 1,718 kWh/m² of Almería [8].
Figure 1: Aerial views of the ITC facilities at Pozo Izquierdo

Figure 1 shows a series of aerial views of the ITC facilities at Pozo Izquierdo. Figure 2 defines the specific technical areas of the project: sea water collection (1), the Desalination dome (2), the pond of produced water (3), the photovoltaic field (4) and the battery house (5).

Figure 2: Location of the principal components on the ITC facilities.
3. Description of the PV-RO system

The system basically consists of a sea water RO desalination plant operating and an isolated photovoltaic system (PV) with power storage based on batteries, producing the power required for the desalination process. Figure 3 is a diagram of the principal power and water lines of the PV-RO system tested.

Figure 3: Diagram of the PV-RO system1.
RO Desalination plant
The sea water desalination plant uses RO technology and has a rated production at 60 bar of
10 m³/d (24 hours), producing potable water with a mean conductivity value of less than 1,000
µS/cm and specific rated consumption in the

desalination process of 5.5 kWh/m³. It is a compact installation in an AISI 316 stainless steel frame, and has two parallel lines of 6 spiral -wound membranes each (2.5” x 40”) (Figure 4). All the high pressure water lines are in flexible rubber and the low pressure line is made out of plastic (PVC and PE-HD). The plant thus has optimal resistance in corrosive atmospheres and therefore requires minimal maintenance. Table 2 provides a list of the components and the principal characteristics of the lines comprising the system.

Figure 4: 10 m³/d sea water desalination plant.
1Clean in place
RO lines
12 elements

Pressure: 3 bar
Flow: 2,5 m³/h
P: 1 kW

Pressure <70 bar
Flow max: 1,5m³/h
P: 2,2 kW (60 bar)
Cartridge Filters
Sea water
Brine flow
Capacity: 10 m³/d
Water quality<500 mg/L
Caudal max : 8 m3/h
P : 0,75 kW
Water line
Electrical line

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