U.S. Water News Online
PASADENA, Calif. -- Engineers say a new demonstration desalination plant here should cut in half the cost of converting seawater to fresh water.
Funding for the $8 million contract for the plant -- designed jointly by the Parsons Corporation and IDE Technologies, Ltd. -- is being provided by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) and the United States-Israel Science and Technology Foundation.
"Our new design has the potential to create a breakthrough in the economics of the desalination process and revolutionize the way water-scarce countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa, supply fresh water," said Parsons Project Manager Dwayne Lee.
The joint venture combines the technical resources of the Parsons Corporation, one of the world's largest full-service engineering, procurement, and construction companies, and IDE, which has experience in over 300 operational desalination plants worldwide. IDE's work in the field ranges from research and development to fabrication and installation.
Company officials say there are four unique aspects of the design that contribute to the expected lower costs of water production. These are: 1) a higher top operating temperature of the water, which allows for greater water production; 2) the use of aluminum tubes as heat exchangers, at one-tenth the cost of traditional alloys; 3) the use of a concrete containment tower, which is much more cost-effective than steel; and 4) the size of the plant, which will be designed to a potential capacity of 60 to 80 million gallons a day.
The desalination plant will be based on a multiple-effect distillation process which in part uses waste heat energy by an adjacent power plant. The multiple-effect evaporator will consist of a vertical aluminum tube heat exchanger contained in a concrete tower. The goal is to demonstrate that this process and design can produce desalinated seawater at a total cost of less than $1000 per acre foot, approximately one-half the current cost.
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