West Basin Ocean Water Desalination Demonstration
Project ID: 7720
Principal Investigator: Saied Delagah
Research Topic: Desalination and Water Treatment
Priority Area Assignments: 2011 (Advanced Water Treatment), 2012 (Advanced Water Treatment)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2011 and 2012
West Basin Municipal Water District (West Basin) will be conducting an ocean water desalination demonstration study. This study will build upon the 6-year pilot study that was completed in 2008. The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) provided funding through the Desalination and Water Purification Research (DWPR) program to this effort and had input on the project. West Basin's efforts for the upcoming demonstration plant will include studying the plant's energy usage in trying to minimize energy consumption and, respectively, its carbon footprint. Another aspect to the study includes concentrate management and the effects of high salinity discharge of concentrate produced in ocean water desalination plants on the aquatic environment surrounding the discharge.
Reclamation is in a position to help support this demonstration effort. The research questions that will be answered in this study will aid future sea water desalination plants and provide insightful knowledge. The proposed energy reduction study will focus on the implementation of an isobaric energy recovery system, the use of high-efficiency pumps, and energy efficient reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. The study will evaluate the effectiveness of the above strategies as well as the overall energy savings gained from the implementation of the above strategies.
The demonstration study will also focus on the effects of concentrate streams on local indigenous marine life community. The concentrate stream generated from the demonstration plant will be used to ensure that concentrate discharge to the ocean is not harmful to the local marine life community.
Need and Benefit
This project meets the needs identified by experts in the desalination field. The National Academy of Sciences have identified energy efficiency and concentrate management as areas that can have cost and environmental benefits with improvement to existing technologies and methodologies in their review of "Desalination: A National Perspective." In the "Implementation of the National Desalination and Water Technology Roadmap" (Roadmap), concentrate management and energy consumption and recovery are identified as national research areas, along with environmental considerations.
One of West Basin's demonstration project objectives is to optimize process and energy usage of the demonstration plant, which will provide significant knowledge for reducing the energy usage of the full-scale plant and decrease chemical usage, thereby decreasing the environmental impact of an ocean water desalination plant and saving dollars in the process as well.
Environmental regulations associated with concentrate discharge to the ocean pose a serious challenge to successful full-scale coastal desalination. Studies such as this must prove the safety of concentrate disposal to the ocean to overcome regulatory and environmental hurdles. Otherwise, all the membrane advancement in the world would be mute because no viable concentrate disposal exists to deal with the large quantities of concentrate generated from desalination plants planned.
The benefits gained from this study will provide solutions to areas that have been identified by experts in the desalination field and have been identified as major research areas by the National Academy of Sciences and the Roadmap.
The following documents were not reviewed. Statements made in these documents are those of the authors. The findings have not been verified.
West Basin Report (interim, PDF,
By Saied Delagah
Report completed on February 10, 2015