Chemical Engineering Research & Design, Vol.158, 12-23, 2020
The effect of energy recovery device and feed flow rate on the energy efficiency of reverse osmosis process
The energy requirements for reverse osmosis (RO) seawater desalination continue to be a major matter of debate. Previous studies have shown the dependence of optimum RO desalination energy on the RO recovery rate. However, they overlooked including the effect of Energy Recovery Device (ERD) and pretreatment on the power consumption. In this work, a computer model was used to analyze the energy requirements for RO desalination, taking into account the effect of ERD efficiencies and pretreatment. The specific power consumption (SPC) of the RO was found to increase with the increase of RO recovery rate when the ERD system was included. The optimum SPC became more dependent on the RO recovery rate when the pretreatment energy was added. The recovery for optimum desalination energy was 46%, 44%, and 40% for the RO system coupled with an ERD of 65%, 80%, and 95% efficiency, respectively. The results showed that RO process could be operated at lower recovery rate and still meet the projected desalination capacity by increasing the feed flow rate and coupling with high-efficiency ERD. A trivial decrease of the total desalination energy was achieved when the feed flow rate increased from 7 m(3)/h to 8 m(3)/h and recovery rate decreased from 46% to 44% by coupling the RO with an ERD of 95% efficiency. This suggests that the RO-ERD system can be operated at a high feed flow rate and low recovery rate without affecting the plant capacity. (C) 2020 Institution of Chemical Engineers. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.