Meet 'Barrel’ - the new face of digital desalination?
A new modular technology combining multiple reverse osmosis (RO) membranes with digital sensors is hoping to shake up the desalination market.
虽然膜基解,installation of the Barrel is inspired by large evaporators of thermal desalination plants, according to Veolia Sidem, the company behind the development.
With the option for the Barrel to be built off-site and then delivered as a plug & play option, it’s hoped this will reduce capital costs, as well as offering a smaller footprint.
Smart connectors: Creating a digital barrel
The interconnector system includes electrodes that can provide real-time data on temperature and salinity.
Smart interconnectors are installed within the permeate tube, next to standard interconnectors, while loading the membranes. This gives a “permanent vision of the condition of each membrane” to help with diagnosis, operation recommendations, maintenance strategies and scheduling.
The concept is that based on this data, plant operators can optimise plant performance continually, leading to lower operation costs.
Veolia Sidem believes that by reducing the number of high-pressure connections, it will “drastically reduce” leakage sources found on the multiple high-pressure connections of traditional RO skids.
He said: “The concept was put together by a few old thermal desalters. Facing the choice of either becoming world-beating membrane specialists or being sent home to tinker with their kettles for the rest of their lives, they have come up with something quite brilliant….it is a challenge to every other player wishing to stay in the large plants market.”
Dr Graeme Pearce, a membrane technology specialist with 30 years of experience in membranes, believes the upfront cost of the Barrel will be more but could be outweighed by design savings.
“The barrel vessel will be expensive, but there will be a saving on the number of vessels which will compensate,” he said. “The flexibility of the system will be much reduced, so it probably only makes sense for large or very large plants.”
“Avoiding the building would probably be a pipe dream,” he said. “This has been claimed before but never works out. The degradation of materials in the merciless heat and UV is highly damaging to all sorts of plastics. Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plants in the Middle East deteriorate very rapidly in buildings, so this would be much worse with additional decay factors if outside.”
Responding to desalination market challenges and conditions
So have been the key drivers behind this development?
In its recent 'Wave' magazine, Veolia Water Technologies said the current desalination market “continues to display significant challenges”.
It added that number and size of new desalination projects put the equipment supply industry under enormous pressure to deliver within time and budget.
“The competition is as fierce as ever on this market,” said Vincent Baujat, managing director of SIDEM. “In these challenging market conditions, competing actors struggle to save resources necessary for research and development budgets on new technologies.”
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