Is desalination becoming more cost effective?

A picture named arubadesalination

From (Leon Kaye):

Energy Recovery Inc. (ERI), headquartered in San Leandro, CA, has a process that it claims not only runs at 98% efficiency, but can reduce desalination plants’ energy consumption by 60% to 80%. The company works on an average of 300 projects around the world annually, often retrofitting older plants with its Pressure Exchanger energy recovery technology. Like other desalination systems, ERI uses reverse osmosis. With a combination of high pressure systems, frictionless hydrodynamic bearing, and a low pressure incoming feed stream, water is forced through the membranes, separating salt and other elements from sea water. In layperson’s terms, a ceramic rotor floating without creating any friction is the difference between older, more expensive technologies, and ERI’s system, which consumes much less energy.

Yesterday I spoke with GG Pique, President and CEO of ERI. One way in which ERI’s technology can have a positive environmental impact is evident in Sand City, CA, just outside of Monterey. The town is home to only a few hundred people, but shopping and tourism brings in about 40,000 daily while employing 4,000. Using ERI’s system, Sand City’s desalination plant produces almost 600,000 gallons of potable water a day. Wells drawing water are not in the bay, where they would interfere with marine life, but from four subsurface beach wells. Generally running during off-peak hours, the new facility can desalinate water at about $3 per 1000 gallons…

ERI maintains a library of case studies on its web site, and has performed well financially since going public in 2008. Pique explained that more projects with which ERI is involved are using renewable energy to at least in part fuel such operations.

More water treatment coverage here.

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