Saudi starts desalination transition with RO demo project

May 21, 2018
A desalination demonstration project has been commissioned in Saudi Arabia to reduce reverse osmosis system energy consumption...

RYAIDH, Saudi Arabia – As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan to eventually replace and upgrade its large-scale desalination plants, a demonstration project has been commissioned that will focus on reducing reverse osmosis system energy consumption.

Being developed for the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), the project was awarded by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

A 10,000 m3/day demonstration plant will be constructed in Ummluji, a city on the Red Sea coast using a low pressure, multi-stage high recovery seawater RO system developed by Hitachi and low-pressure seawater RO membranes supplied by Toray.

The tubular pressure vessels will be installed in multiple stages, with the flow rate and pressure of the feed-water controlled, thereby equalising the volume of permeated water. An energy recovery device will be applied to the system to reduce the energy consumed for driving the pump.

Hitachi and Toray believe that by applying the technologies in this way, energy consumption can be reduced by 20 percent compared to conventional seawater desalination plants.

Furthermore, the companies believe that by reducing the capacity of the pre-treatment facilities, enabled by lowering the seawater intake, construction costs will also be reduced.

The system is being developed based on the outcome of the Mega-ton Water System, which was established during FY2009 to FY2013 under the Funding Program for World-Leading Innovative R&D on Science and Technology.

Since December 2016, the two companies have been conducting a pilot test using a small-scale, 500 m3/day plant at a research site of SWCC in Al-Jubail.

The demonstration project is scheduled for a five-year period, from April 2018 to March 2023.


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About the Author

Tom Freyberg

Tom Freyberg is an experienced environmental journalist, having worked across a variety of business-to-business titles. Since joining Pennwell in 2010, he has been influential in developing international partnerships for the water brand and has overseen digital developments, including 360 degree video case studies. He has interviewed high level figures, including NYSE CEO’s and Environmental Ministers. A known figure in the global water industry, Tom has chaired and spoken at conferences around the world, from Helsinki, to London and Singapore. An English graduate from Exeter University, Tom completed his PMA journalism training in London.