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Development of an innovator desalination process to reduce energy consumption by forward osmosis.

This project has as main objective to develop a new system of desalination by forward osmosis and ultrafiltration, from brackish or marine waters, in order to reduce energy consumption in existing processes, ensuring greater energy efficiency in this process. That is very important since society needs most often the desalination of brackish and marine waters.

This objective comes from the need of high energy consumption in current desalination processes. At the moment, desalination is responsible for about 1% of national energy consumption, which is a disproportionate relationship.

The main advantage which will result in the development of this project will be a drastic reduction in energy consumption that characterizes current desalination plants, which, as a technique most widely used is reverse osmosis. The consortium estimates this reduction in 60%.

The overall objective mentioned, is based on the following specific objectives: 

  • Development of forward osmosis process. It will be necessary to research and define of membrane type to be used, as well as extracting agent.

  • Development of an ultrafiltration process. It will be capable of recovering, on the one hand, the desalinated water, and secondly the extracting agent used in the process of forward osmosis.

Depending on the results obtained along the evolution of the project, the consortium may achieve other challenges, along the same lines:

  • The combined process of forward osmosis - ultrafiltration could also be applied to the concentration of residual brine from desalination facilities using conventional processes, such as reverse osmosis with special mention to desalination indoor plants . In this case it would also be necessary to research a hydrophilic polymer to remove water from the brine.

  • Another possible application of the forward osmosis could be the tertiary treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater for reusing it. Due to forward osmosis process doesn’t apply pressure it has the advantage that the membranes suffer less fouling (principal advantage over the process of reverse osmosis).

According to these objectives, the consortium will achieve a set of innovations, as: 

  • To develop a new desalination system based on a forward osmosis process, that today it is not used in any plant, either in Spain or outside Spain. It could lead a revolution in the field of water desalination, due not only to real energy savings that would result in this new process, but also to the provision of fresh water for use in irrigating fields or even human consumption. 
  • Furthermore, this process of forward osmosis and ultrafiltration would be easy adapted for other water treatments as tertiary wastewater treatment.

CDTI EEA Grants Program 

  • Stars: February 2014. 
  • Ends: December 2015
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Total Budget: 558.282 €
  • Participants: 
    • Sadyt
  • Collaborating entities: 
    • Universidad de Alicante
    • Vestlandsforsking

Proyecto Osmos