[IEEE 2013 International Renewable and Sustainable Energy Conference (IRSEC) - Ouarzazate (2013.3.7-2013.3.9)] 2013 International Renewable and Sustainable Energy Conference (IRSEC) - Wind powered water desalination

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  • Wind Powered Water Desalination Youssef Dahioui*, Khalid Loudiyi# "'School o/Science and Engineering

    Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane

    /frane, Morocco ly.dahioui@aui.ma


    Abstract- Renewable energy, and more specifically, wind energy powered desalination, has been going through an upwards trend, especially during the last decade. Still, there is a domain that has not been much researched 111; hence, this paper tries to address wind powered independent desalination systems. With its lower energy consumption and portability, Reverse Osmosis (RO) method has been chosen as the desalination technology that will be integrated with wind energy. In this work a MA TLAB simulation is used to find out the effects of fluctuating wind energy on a system that is designed to operate under steady conditions. The results show that varying electrical power leads to extreme fluctuation in feed water pressure, beyond the operational range of the RO membranes. Still, this does not draw a cross on the wind and desalination combo; in fact, several methods exist to diminish the pressure variation, including wind turbine de-rating, or use of pressure stabilizers.

    Kwords-Desalination, wind energy, reverse osmosis, MA TLAB, simulation

    I. INTRODUCTION Without water, nothing alive on this planet would have

    existed. 75% of the surface of the earth is covered by water; nevertheless, only 3% of that water is available as fresh water, and only 13% of those 3% are directly available for drinking and any other domestic, industrial or agricultural uses [2]. Just a few decades ago, fresh water was viewed as an eternal, renewable and easily accessed resource; however, nowadays, water shortage has become a serious issue that may be the main cause of conflicts in the near future. One of the most widely used indicators for defining water stress is the Falkenmark indicator, illustrated in Table I and defined as the entire annual water available for human use [3].


    Index (m3 per capita) Category >1700 No stress 1000 - 17000 Stress 500 - 1000 Scarcity < 500 Absolute Scarcity

    To tackle this water shortage issue, water desalination has represented for years, an effective, yet an energy consuming method [4]. Thus, and taking into account the current energy world market, with increasing fossil fuel prices, renewable energy powered desalination is taking an interesting trend.


    A. Thermal Technologies

    1) Multi-stage Flash Distillation: Multi-stage Flash (MSF) is the most used thermal desalination technology, worldwide; it represents about 50% of the installed capacity [5]. Basically, this process is about evaporating feed water in a group of chambers, each having a lower pressure than the previous one. When getting into one stage, water flashes, or evaporates instantaneously due to the low pressure implying a lower evaporation point.

    2) Multi-Effect Distillation: The Multi-Effect Distillation (ME) was the first process used for desalination of seawater [6]. A quantity of water is heated up till becoming vapor then goes through a heat exchanger. Feed water that is going to be desalinated is sprayed in the heat exchanger condensing vapor flowing through it. Latent heat released due to condensation causes some of the feed water to evaporate and flows to another heat exchanger for the process to take place again until a significant quantity of condensate water has been collected [6].

    3) Vapor Compression: Vapor compression (VC) process is a more recent method for water desalination; still, it is based on a simple principle. As shown in Fig.l, it is usually composed of three parts, a compressor, a heat exchanger and an evaporator. Some of the vapor produced within the evaporator is sent to the compressor, increasing its pressure, and its temperature as well. The superheated vapor that leaves the compressor, gets into the heat exchanger submerged within the feed water, and causes its evaporation [7].

    --=====::== Compressor LI

    - {} . r lW' ===:===i[:;;:;::::: -I. -= Feed Waler /=,-esh Water

    Fig. 1 Vapor compression cycle

    B. Membranes Technologies

    978-1-4673-6374-7/13/$31.00 2013 IEEE

  • 1) Electrodialysis: Electrodialysis (ED) is the oldest desalination membrane-based technology and has been used all around the world for more than 40 years. More than 10 million m3 of water are produced on a daily basis using this technology [8]. From Fig.2, it is a process in which ions are attracted to their respective electrically charged electrode through ion-selective semi-permeable membranes. Positively and negatively charged dissolved salts in the aqueous solution are attracted to the electrode with the opposite charge, and membranes, that allow either cations or anions to pass through, are installed in an alternative way, thus creating concentrated and purified streams.

    Concentrate Oiruate Concentrate

    + + 0 0

    0 0 0

    0 cathode 0 0 0 0

    Feed Water

    Fig. 2 Electro dialysis process

    2) Reverse Osmosis: The movement of solvent molecules from one space with low solute concentration to another space through a semi-permeable membrane with a higher solute concentration is what is called osmosis, observed in 1748 [9]. What causes this movement is the difference in chemical potential between the two solutions, affected in its turn by three different factors: Salt concentration, the higher the concentration the lower the chemical potential; temperature, the higher the temperature, the higher the chemical potential; pressure, the higher the pressure the higher the chemical potential This movement, or osmosis process, would carry on until equilibrium in chemical potential between the two sides is reached; this is the "osmosis equilibrium."

    Therefore, in order to desalinate water, it is the reverse process that has to be done, called "reverse osmosis." As pointed up in Fig.3, some pressure has to be applied at the beginning to initiate the flow from the saline side to the fresh side; this is the "osmotic pressure."

    - r T:U Osmotic PresS(Jre

    Fresh Water Saline Water'

    D' Semi-permeable Membrane

    Fig. 3 Reverse osmosis process


    One problem that has been facing water desalination is its significant energy needs. Consequently, to incorporate renewable energy and more specifically wind energy that can be considered nowadays as a mature technology, there are two main aspects or factors that should be taken into consideration:

    Specific energy consumption (Table II) or ability to produce as much water as possible from the available energy during any period

    Operability under variable conditions and this is what actually keeps the thermal technologies away; they usually require a long start-up time and significant energy waste could result from frequent stops.


    Desalination Technology Specific Energy (kWh/m3)

    Multi-stage Flash 6-9 Multiple Effect 10 - 14.5 Vapor Compression 7 - 15 Electrodialysis 0.7 - 2.2 Reverse Osmosis 3 - 13

    Other factors could be taken into account as well such as ease of maintenance and portability. At the end, RO seems to be the technology with the highest potential.

    In the literature review we have gone through [10], [11], [12] very few implemented projects dealt with this problematic. Amongst these, a prototype system using mechanical energy transmission between the wind turbine and the water pump. This type of desalination using mechanical energy instead of electrical faces several difficulties related to more frequent failures due to the use of mechanical bearings, and most importantly, the end result was not really satisfying, since the water product quality was not high enough to be drinkable even though it still could be used for irrigation. Another prototype implemented in Coconut Island, Hawaii uses electrical energy of the wind turbine, and a feedback system that enables the control of water flow, thus stabilizes its pressure. [t was able to achieve a cost of $5.4 per m3 [10].

    A. Wind & RO

    Reverse Osmosis has been continuously improved over the years making it one of the most energy efficient, and representing more than half of the new desalination plants that are being installed every year. This is mainly due to the development of the main part of a RO system, its membranes. Lots of efforts have been put into improving their

  • performance, their resistance to pressure fluctuations. Eventually, to optimize their performance, they have to undergo a specific flow rate and pressure, and this is the main challenge with fluctuating wind energy [13], [14], [7].

    Thus, as demonstrated in Fig.4, that was made arbitrarily, when designing the system, there are several conditions that have to be respected to maximize the lifetime of the membranes and avoid any significant deterioration:

    Maximum feed Pressure (membrane resistance) Maximum brine flow rate (membrane resistance) Minimum brine flow rate (fouling problem) Maximum product concentration (depends of osmotic

    and applied pressure)


    Minimum Brine Flow Rate

    Maximu m Al lowe d Co n c entrati on

    Maxim um Pressure

    RO membrane O p erational Region

    Maxi mum Brin e Flow Rate

    Flow Rate

    Fig. 4 RO membrane operating region under specific conditions

    1) System with Backup: Basically, an additional energy source (diesel generator, grid connection) will be used besides wind energy. This will compensate for electricity coming from the wind generator during low or no wind. This represents an easy solution for the wind fluctuations; however,


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