World's largest desalination plant begins operations in Israel with Dow membranes

The 165,000 m3 of water per day plant in Ashkelon, Israel, is relying on FilmTec membrane technology from the Dow Chemical Co. for its highly demanding seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) process. Begun in April 2003, the plant is part of a Desalination Master Plan launched by Israel in 2002 to help address the country's chronic water resource problems...

MIDLAND, MI, Sept. 27, 2005 -- The world's largest desalination plant in Ashkelon, Israel, is now providing and selling 165,000 m3 of water per day, relying on FilmTec™ membrane technology from the Dow Chemical Co. for the plant's highly demanding seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) process. Begun in April 2003, the plant is part of a Desalination Master Plan launched by Israel in 2002 to help address the country's chronic water resource problems. The Water and Desalination Authority of Israel will use the treated water to supplement and upgrade the existing potable municipal water supply in this region with extremely dry conditions and limited fresh water resources.

The plant is owned and operated by VID Desalination Co., which is a consortium of IDE Technologies Ltd. (50%) equally owned by Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) of the Israel Corp. Ltd. and Delek Group, as well as Veolia Water S.A. (25%). The Ashkelon desalination plant is comprised of a North and South plant, each designed to produce 165,000 m3/D making a total of 330,000 m3/D of produced water. The next phase is to begin commissioning of the South plant, which is planned later this year.

"The successful operation of this plant in one of the most water-challenged areas of the world speaks to the bright future seawater reverse osmosis technology has in addressing the needs of other regions, such as China, India and Africa, that are facing growing demand and limited availability of freshwater resources," said Ian Barbour, general manager, Dow Liquid Separations and CEO of FilmTec, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company. "We are very excited that the plant is up and running. Dow's association and close coordination with The OTID Consortium and Jacobson Agencies Ltd., Dow's agent in Israel, has been instrumental in the successful start up of this very sophisticated plant."

The OTID Consortium, an association formed by OTV, part of Veolia Water, and IDE Technologies Ltd., selected FilmTec RO elements for the seawater desalination plant to meet the demanding needs of the Ashkelon SWRO process. The desalination facility consists of 32 RO treatment trains and uses an optimized, multi-stage RO and boron removal procedures. The method selected is highly flexible and readily adjustable to feed water temperature fluctuations, and is capable of delivering a removal efficiency greater than 92% when required. "The Ashkelon desalination facility will provide approximately 15% of the total household water consumption in Israel," said Gustavo Kronenberg, general manager of VID Desalination Co.

Jorge Redondo, Dow's Ashkelon Project manager, commented, "These demands, coupled with a number of other key requirements, including high pH tolerance, continuous low pressure operation, low membrane fouling and cost-effective, reliable performance, led to FilmTec elements being selected for the RO operation at Ashkelon."

"The Ashkelon plant contains more than 40,000 FilmTec RO membrane elements, a milestone project for desalination in terms of size," stated Lance Johnson, manager, global large projects for Dow Liquid Separations. "But even more importantly, the plant is a testament to how advances in RO membrane technology have contributed to making the production of clean drinking water from seawater more affordable and energy efficient. Over the past ten years, FilmTec Corp. has helped to decrease the cost of RO water nearly threefold, while enhancements in membrane throughput and rejection have led to significant reductions in energy consumption. Our driving vision is to help customers produce the highest quality water at the lowest possible cost, and we're excited to see that vision achieved when put to the Ashkelon reality test."

Dow ( is a leader in science and technology, providing innovative chemical, plastic and agricultural products and services to many essential consumer markets. With annual sales of $40 billion, Dow serves customers in 175 countries and a wide range of markets that are vital to human progress: food, transportation, health and medicine, personal and home care, and building and construction, among others. Committed to the principles of sustainable development, Dow and its 43,000 employees seek to balance economic, environmental and social responsibilities.


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