١

" ENERGY ANALYSIS OF A THERMAL DESALINATION
PLANT IN SAUDI ARABIA"

















٢
TABLE OF CONTENTS



Acknowledgement 3
List of Tables 4
List of Figures 5
Summary (Arabic) 6
Summary 7
Introduction 8
Literature Survey 10
Research Methodology 10
The Studied processes 10
Single stage flashing unit 11
Multi-Flash Distillation 12
Multi-Effect Distillation 12
Multi-Effect Distillation with vapor pre-heating 13
Multi-Effect Distillation with vapor/liquid pre-heating 15
Results and Discussion 16
References 25
Appendices 26






٣
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The principal investigator and his team wish to acknowledge the financial assistance
from the Deanship of Scientific Research and the Research Center of the College of
Engineering for all its contribution to make this project a success.






٤
LIST OF TABLES

List of Tables

TABLE 1. Data used on the simulation of the flash units

٥
LIST OF FIGURES


Figure 1 HYSYS process flow diagram for a single evaporator
Figure 2 HYSYS process flow diagram for MSF distillation
Figure 3 HYSYS process flow diagram for Multi-Effect-Distillation
Figure 4 HYSYS process flow diagram for Multi-Effect-Distillation
with vapor pre-heating.
Figure 5 HYSYS process flow diagram for Multi-Effect-Distillation
with liquid/vapor pre-heating.
Figure 6 Composite Diagram of the Single Stage Flash distillation
Figure 7a Pinch analysis of the SSF showing energy savings
Figure 7b Pinch analysis of the SSF showing energy savings
Figure 8 Grid diagram of the existing network
Figure 9 Composite Diagram of the Multi-Stage Flash distillation
Figure 10a Pinch analysis of the MSF showing energy savings
Figure 10b Pinch analysis of the MSF showing energy savings
Figure 11 Grid diagram of the existing network for MSF
Figure 12 Composite Diagram of the Multi-Effect Distillation without pre-heating
Figure 13 Composite Diagram of the Multi-Effect distillation with liquid pre-heating
Figure 14 Composite Diagram of the Multi-Effect distillation
with vapor/liquid preheating.








٧
SUMMARY

For an arid country like Saudi Arabia, the quest for more fresh water never ends. The
country has adopted the multi stage flash distillation (MSF) process as the prominent
process for the production of fresh water. Nevertheless the process is complex, costly
and energy intensive. Consequently, energy analysis has evolved to be a useful tool
for the optimization of the thermal process. Benefits are not limited to the reduction in
energy consumption. Several energy optimization projects resulted in a decrease in
unit product cost, an elongation of the service life of the plant through the
conservation of its material of construction and an increase in profit margin generated
by the process.
The simulation of five plant configuration types (namely, Single Stage Flash
distillation, Multi-Stage Flash distillation and three types of Multi-Effect Distillation)
was run using HYSYS. The various runs established the energy utilization of the
various processes.
The results of the various HYSYS runs were then fed to Super Target software
program. The program was developed by Linnhoff-March [9], which contains a suite
of pinch-technology programs that provide fundamental insights to heat recovery
options in a process, which then results in lower operating costs or reduced capital
cost by auditing energy consumption or emission. The program was used to find and
calculate the maximum possible heat recovery and to compare the existing design
with targets.
It was clear from the analysis that there was a lot of wastage in the SSF plants and that
increasing the number of stages improved the energy utilization. In the SSF, the
energy that could be saved was as high as 82.4 % while it was only 63.5 % when an
MSF plant is used. When a conventional MED plant was used, the savings of 80.5 %
that was achieved was comparable to that of SSF. However, when the feed was pre-
heated by the vapor and liquid/vapor of the columns savings of –10.6 % and –11.5 %
were achieved respectively. For the latter, the minimum delta Ts indicated the need
for heat exchangers with small areas.





٨


1.0 INTRODUCTION

For an arid country like Saudi Arabia, the quest for more fresh water never ends. The
country has adopted the multi stage flash distillation (MSF) process as the prominent
process for the production of fresh water. The implementation of the MSF process has
placed the country among the top 16 % of fresh water producers. At present, MSF
accounts for about 66 % of the world’s production of desalinated water [5].
The high demand for fresh water as well as the abundance of thermal energy in the
form Natural Gas and Petroleum derivatives has made the process rather attractive for
Saudi Arabia and the neighboring countries. Nevertheless the process is complex,
costly and energy intensive. Consequently, energy analysis has evolved to be a useful
tool for the optimization of the thermal process. Benefits are not limited to the
reduction in energy consumption. Several energy optimization projects resulted in a
decrease in unit product cost, an elongation of the service life of the plant through the
conservation of its material of construction and an increase in profit margin generated
by the process.

Seawater is an aqueous solution of salts, basically sodium chloride. The salt
concentration varies depending on the location of the sea being used. However the salt
concentration in the Arabian Gulf region has been documented to range between
0.036 wt percent to 0.042 wt % salts. This concentration is typical to most sources of
desalination plants in the area.
The removal of such salts from such aqueous solutions is done in two ways. The first
is by thermal process whereby pure water is evaporated and the salt or a more
concentrated salt solution is left behind. The other method is by membrane separation,
where pure water passes through the pervious membrane without allowing the salt to
go through. Though this method is the new trend and is undergoing a lot of research
work, the former is more pervasive in the Middle East at large and in the Kingdom in
particular.
Distillation is one of the oldest known methods of separating fresh water from
a solution of salt water. When the latter is boiled, freshwater evaporates leaving the
salt behind. The water vapor is cooled down, condensing the steam back to fresh
٩
water. It is thermodynamically known that raising water to its boiling point is not
enough to vaporize it, rather more heat is required (heat of vaporization) to change the
liquid to vapor or steam. Thus the heat of vaporization is of major importance in the
desalination industry.
The solution of salt water has its own saturation temperature. This temperature drops
at low pressures as the altitude of the location increases or if vacuum is created in the
evaporator. Saturated liquid water contains maximum amount of energy and will
vaporize if additional heat is provided or pressure is reduced.
In MSF plants, concentrated brine is heated to just below the brine recycle
pump delivery pressure and at the top brine temperature. The brine then flows into the
evaporator or flash chamber, where it finds a pressure lower than its saturation
pressure. The brine instantaneously evaporates until water vapor pressure decreases to
the first stage pressure and the corresponding temperature also decreases to the first
stage vapor temperature. The single stage plant can be extended to any number of
stages. The pressure of each stage is successively reduced, until the interaction
between vapor volume, equilibrium and heat rejection help to fix the minimum
temperature of the last stage. For most purposes, the increasing specific volume of the
flashed vapor limits the bottom brine temperature. On the other hand proscription of
scale formation dictates the value of the top brine temperature. It is in this region that
energy is expended. Studies based on energy and exergy considerations have been
conducted [2]. These were done to obtain optimum design parameters for the plant. It
would be useful to implement a degree of heat exchanger network that will help
reduce losses.
In the light of current world energy crunch, the use of pinch analysis (Linnhoff) could
expose areas of savings. It is interesting to note that, for the first time, the research
work addresses the use of PINCH analysis in desalination.
In this research work, it is intended to evaluate the thermal performance and carry out
energy savings analysis of conventional commercial MSF plants under standard
conditions using PINCH analysis.




١٠
2. THE STUDIED PROCESSES

The processes studied are given in Figs. 1-5. The plants are either single flash unit or
a series of flash units. In these units seawater is evaporated to obtain distilled water.
To reduce corrosion problems, process feed must be properly treated and heater
temperatures must not exceed 120
°
C. [4]. Where recycle is used, the recycle flow is
limited by the salt maximum admissible concentration, which depends on material
and the equipment useful life. In all flow sheets, the data used is as shown in Table 1
and is typical of the conditions in the desalination plants in the Kingdom.

TABLE 1. Data used on the simulation of the flash units


Top Brine Temperature
90
°
C.
Temperature of reject brine
60
°
C.
Motive steam temperature
100
°
C.
Intake seawater temperature
30
°
C.
Thermodynamic loss
Condenser terminal temp. Diff.
Salinity of intake seawater 42000ppm
Salinity of reject seawater 70000ppm

For the single stage flash unit the actual plant consists of a pre-heater, an evaporator
equipped with a demister and a condenser. The simulation substitutes the evaporator
with a flash column. The flash unit is effective in representing the evaporator and the
demister in that the demister is used to remove excessive vapor and reduce pressure
build up, while in a flash column the separation of vapor/liquid is total and the
pressure drop in the condenser removes any pressure build up.
Appendix A2 shows the actual flow sheet for an MSF plant. The MSF plant is a
combination of several SSF units. Appendix A1 shows an actual multi-effect
distillation unit and is similar to the MSF except that in Appendix A1, the flows are
subdivided into n-equal streams.
١١
In all the simulation runs the flow sheets were simplified to depict the main unit
operation activities pertaining to the processes, and in our view, enables the process
engineer to make quick and fast judgment on the thermal performance of the plant
under study.
2.1. SINGLE-STAGE FLASHING UNIT (SSF)
In the first part of the work, a single-stage flash distillation column was used. The
flow sheet is shown in Fig. 1. In this figure, a feed, at the conditions specified in
Table 1, enters a pre-heater. The pre-heater (which is presumed to have steam with a
flow rate and temperature) is used to raise the temperature of the inlet cold flow to
that of the conventional top brine temperature (TBT). In the heat exchanger unit of a
plant, the steam used releases its latent heat. The energy is used to heat the entering
seawater from ambient temperature to the stated temperature. The hot brine then
enters the flash-chamber, which is operated at a pressure lower than the saturation
pressure at the top brine temperature conditions. The concentration of the rejected
brine was kept at 7.4 wt %. The distillate was cooled back to 60
°
C using
conventional heat exchanger. The latent heat of condensation of the produced vapor is
first removed before removing the sensible heat of the resulting liquid.




Fig. 1. HYSYS process flow diagram for a single evaporator
١٢
2.2 MULTI FLASH DISTILLATION (MSF)
Multi-stage flash distillation is the most widely used in industry. A schematic diagram
for the system is shown in Fig. 2. In the original flow sheet of Dessouky et al [5], the
system consisted of 14 flash units. The simulation here is done with ten flash units
because the last unit had exceeded the recommended brine concentration. The system
consists of 10 flash units and the brine heaters. Three sections are clear in this flow
sheet namely, the brine heater, the flash section and the heat rejection section. The
brine heater drives the flashing process by heating the feed to the flash conditions
required to achieve separation. Flashing then occurs in the columns where vapor
formation occurs in equilibrium with brine liquid. The flashed off vapors are all
accumulated and sent to condenser for cooling at the designated temperature of 40
°
C.



Fig. 2. HYSYS process flow diagram for MSF distillation

2.3 MULTI EFFECT DISTILLATION (MED)
Fig. 3 below shows the use of multi-effect distillation to achieve the same degree of
separation. The flow sheet was developed by Garcia et al [3] but was used in solar
energy applications. The feed is initially divided into 10 equal flows to suite the
١٣
number of flash columns. There is also the same number of pre heaters. However in
the flow sheet the bottom brine liquid of the previous column is used to pre-heat the
second feed to a pre-designed temperature before heating again to attain the top brine
temperature value. This way the load on the pre-heaters is reduced. This arrangement
is repeated for all columns as shown in the flow sheet. The vapor flows from all the
flash units are collected and sent to a condenser for cooling to the required
temperature.


2.4 MULTI EFFECT DISTILLATION (MED) WITH VAPOR PRE-HEATING
Fig. 4 is a flow sheet showing a modification of that in Fig. 3. In this, the vapor
product rather than the liquid product is utilized as the pre-heater. Initially, the feed
was similarly divided into 10 equal flows. The first feed is pre-heated to the top brine
temperature before being flashed. At that condition, the liquid mixture is separated
into vapor and liquid. The vapor goes through the top of the column and the liquid
through the bottom. The top vapor is used to preheat the next feed to as near the TBT
as possible. It is then properly conditioned in a separate pre-heater. This seriously
reduces the load on the pre-heater. The conditioned feed is then flashed. This is
repeated for other columns as shown in the flow sheet. The resultant vapor lines are
all mixed and sent to a condenser where the temperature is cooled to 40 C.


١٤


Fig. 3. HYSYS process flow diagram for Multi-Effect-Distillation




Fig. 4. HYSYS process flow diagram for Multi-Effect-Distillation with vapor pre-
heating
١٥
2.5 MULTI EFFECT DISTILLATION (MED) WITH VAPOR/LIQUID
PRE- HEATING
Fig. 5, shows another combination of the MED scheme. Here, the same strategy of 10
equal flows is maintained. However, the feed is first preheated by the hot liquid
product to 45 °C. Beyond this temperature, there is a temperature cross and therefore
a limit is established beyond which the hot liquid cannot preheat the cold one. The hot
vapor stream then does the rest of the preheating. This stream heats the cold liquid
from 45 °C to the TBT. The last heat exchanger is then used to properly condition the
feed before flashing. Flashing occurs in the column which then separates the stream
into its liquid and vapor components. The process is repeated for all units. The vapor
lines are then collected and cooled to the nominal temperature of 45 °C.



Fig. 5. HYSYS process flow diagram for Multi-Effect-Distillation with liquid/vapor
pre-heating


2.6 SUPER TARGET
SuperTarget is the world's leading energy pinch tool. It is a modular product with
options for process, site or column analysis. SuperTarget [9] has led from the front for
almost 10 years and whilst it has imitators, it has no serious rival. Still the preferred
١٦
tool of energy pinch experts world-wide SuperTarget is also ideal for less experienced
users and makes pinch analysis a routine part of process design.

3.0 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The results of the simulation runs using HYSYS are shown in Appendix A-1. For Fig.
1, the total energy requirements are given by Q_101 and Q_102. Q_101 is the heating
requirement and is given by 45 kJ. This is equivalent to 1000 tons of low-pressure
steam required for this heating. On the other hand Q_102 requires –60 kJ of energy to
cool the vapor stream. Using cooling water at 20°C, this gives an equivalent of 2 tons
of cold water. This establishes the energy utilization of the process.
The results were then fed to Super Target software program. The program was
developed by Linnhoff-March [9], which contains a suite of pinch-technology
programs that provide fundamental insights to heat recovery options in a process. This
results in lower operating costs or reduced capital cost by auditing energy
consumption or emission. In using this program, it is expected to find and calculate
the maximum possible heat recovery and to compare the existing design with targets.
Fig. 6, shows the composite diagram for the SSF distillation unit. The red curve
shows the heating curves while the blue shows the cooling composite curve. In Fig. 6,
the temperature, T, is plotted against enthalpy or heat transferred with the slope being
the inverse of heat capacity. For hot streams, the curves are cooling composites that
begin at highest temperature and end at the lowest temperature after energy has been
removed. The Q required for the cooling composite is given as 23728.3 kW. For the
cold stream, the curve is a heating composite beginning from 30°C and ends at 99.6
°C after 23243.6 kW of energy has been added. Since the slopes of the two curves are
constant, the composite curves have no segments but it is clear that utility steam is
required at portions where heat flow from cooling composite is not covered for on the
heating composite.

١٧


Fig. 6. Composite Diagram of the Single Stage Flash distillation



A cross pinch analysis from the program shows an energy savings of 82 %. From the
figure, it is clear that the lower end of the cooling composite is not fully covered and
will require the use of utility.
Figs. 7a and 7b show both the energy due to the total energy savings that can be
attained. Savings of 195227.2 kW can be made on the hot utility if the generated
vapor is used as a pre-heater to the incoming feed.

١٨


Fig. 7a. Pinch analysis of the SSF showing energy savings





Fig. 7b. Pinch analysis of the SSF showing energy savings

١٩
Fig. 8, shows the grid diagram of the existing network, including the split mix
structure as well as the cross pinch heat exchangers. The hot stream is red and is
depicted to flow from left to right. The temperature starts from 99.6 °C and is cooled
to 26.4 °C. The heat extracted in this process is 23243.9 kW.
On the other hand, the cold stream is blue and is depicted to flow from right to left. It
was seen to begin at 30°C up to the Top Brine Temperature.



Fig. 8. Grid diagram of the existing network



The composite diagram for MSF unit with 10 flash columns is shown in Fig. 9. Here
again, the heating composite as well as the cooling composite curve both have
constant slopes with the closest point of approach giving a
min
12.7 T C
°
∆ = . As usual
the upper and lower points that are not covered by heating or cooling curves require
the use of utilities. This shows in the upper and lower portions of the heating
composite.
٢٠
Figs. 10a and 10b, show potential savings of 63.5 %. Of this savings 51% comes from
the use of hot utility. Thus it is important to seriously consider the use of hot utility.
Fig. 11, shows the grid diagram for the MSF distillation unit. The cooling composite
shows the use of two condensers to achieve this. The heating composite shows the use
of several pre-heaters.
It is interesting to note that the use of several flash units has rather reduced the
amount energy savings to be made. This means that more energy savings are made
with the use of more flash columns at the expense of capital cost. The composite
diagrams of Figs. 12, 13 and 14 add to the fact that not only are energy saved from the
addition of more flash units, but energy can and is also conserved from the use of the
vapor from each unit as a pre-heating medium.
When the feed was divided into seven equal streams and fed into different flash units,
the energy savings that could be attained was found to be 80 % as shown in Fig. 12.
Then when the feed was preheated with either the liquid product from the flash unit or
the vapor product, the savings targets were fully achieved.



Fig. 9. Composite Diagram of the Multi-Stage Flash distillation

٢١


Fig. 10a. Pinch analysis of the MSF showing energy savings



Fig. 10b. Pinch analysis of the MSF showing energy savings


٢٢


Fig. 11. Grid diagram of the existing network for MSF



Fig. 12. Composite Diagram of the Multi-Effect Distillation without pre-heating
٢٣





Fig. 13. Composite Diagram of the Multi-Effect distillation with liquid pre-heating



٢٤


Fig. 14. Composite Diagram of the Multi-Effect distillation with vapor/liquid
preheating

It is interesting to note that most savings were achieved through the utilization of the
latent heat of the vapor. As the savings target is achieved, the DT is also improved.
Recall that the smaller the DT, the larger the exchanger area required achieving the
cooling or heating. The DT for MSF was 10.5, that for MED was 12.2 but with liquid
cooling and vapor/liquid DTs of 69 and 69.56 were observed respectively. This
indicates the need for smaller heat exchanger areas.

4.0 CONCLUSION
In this project, comparative analysis was carried out on multi-effect desalination
plants. Five plant types were used. The first was the theoretical SSF, followed by a
conventional MSF plant used in the Kingdom and then three types of MED plants
used in the field. It was clear that there was a lot of wastage in the SSF plants and that
increasing the number of stages improved the energy utilization. In the SSF, the
energy that could be saved was as high as 82.4 % while it was only 63.5 % when an
MSF plant is used. When a conventional MED plant was used, the savings of 80.5 %
٢٥
that was achieved was comparable to that of SSF. However, when the feed was pre-
heated by the vapor and liquid/vapor of the columns savings of –10.6 % and –11.5 %
were achieved respectively. For the latter, the minimum delta Ts indicated the need
for heat exchangers with small areas.




5.0 REFERENCES

[1] O. A., Hamed, M. A. K., Al-Sofi, M., Imam, G. M., Muatafa, K., Bamardouf,
H., Al-Washmi., ‘Simulation of multistage flash desalination process’,
Desalination, 134, pp195-203, 2001.
[2] O. A., Hamed, M. A. K., Al-Sofi, M., Imam, G. M., Muatafa, K., Bamardouf,
H., Al-Washmi.,., ‘Thermal performance of multi-stage flash distillation plants in
Saudi Arabia’, Desalination, 128, pp281-292, 2000.
[3] L.,Garcia-Rodriguez, C., Gomez-Camacho, ‘Thermo-economic analysis of a
solar multi-effect distillation plant installed at the Plataforma Solar Almeria
(Spain)’, Desalination, 122, pp205-214, 1999.
[4] E. E., Tarifa, S. F., Dominguez, D., Humana, D. L., Martinez, A. F., Nunez,
N. J. Scenna, ‘Fault analysis for MSF plants’, Desalination, 182, pp131-142,
2005.
[5] H., El-Desouky, I., Al-Atiqi and H. Ettouney, ‘Process synthesis: the multi-
stage flash desalination system’, Desalination, 115, pp155-179, 1998.
[6] A., Jernqvist, M., Jernqvist and G., Aly, ‘Simulation of thermal desalination
processes’, Desalination, 126, pp147-152, 1999.
[7] H. T., El-Dessouky and H. M. Ettouney, ‘Multi-effect evaporation desalination
systems: thermal analysis’, Desalination, 125, pp 259-276, 1999.
[8] A., Jernqvist, M., Jernqvist and G., Aly, ‘Simulation of thermal desalination
processes’, Desalination, 124, pp187-193, 2001.
[9] Linnhoff-March, Super Target software program, V. 6.


٢٦

6.0 APPENDICES

APPENDIX A1: MULTI-EFFECT DISTILLATION (MED)
Source: Garcia-Rodriguez et al[3]






Fig. A-1. Typical flowsheet of Multi-Effect Distillation (MED)





٢٧
APPENDIX A2: MULTI-STAGE FLASH DISTILLATION (MSF)
Source: El-Dessouky et al[5]





Fig. A-2. Typical flowsheet of Multi-Stage Flash Distillation (MSF)

٢٨

٢٩
APPENDIX A3: SINGLE STAGE FLASH DISTILLATION (SSF)
Source: El-Dessouky et al




Fig. A-3. Typical flowsheet of Single-Stage Flash Distillation (SSF)