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National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) 2011

Optimization of reverse osmosis desalination unit using mathematical programming

Arvanitis, Konstantinos D.

Titre : Optimization of reverse osmosis desalination unit using mathematical programming

Εφαρμογή Πολυκριτηριακής Ανάλυσης για τη χωροθέτηση έργων Τεχνητού Εμπλουτισμού υπόγειων υδροφορέων με τη χρήση ποιοτικά υποβαθμισμένων νερών

Auteur : Arvanitis, Konstantinos D. ; Αρβανίτης, Κωνσταντίνος Δ.

Université de soutenance : National Technical University of Athens (NTUA)

Grade : Master Thesis 2011

Nowadays, the access to water for the modern societies is considered to be more and more difficult. The water reserves’ abuse and pollution, as long as the increasing demand due to population increase, are some of the main reasons that have established water as a good in scarcity. Particularly in Greece, despite the fact that there are plenty of renewable water resources, it is clear that there is water scarcity in many areas, especially in islands. This is due to the irrational use of underground water and to the non uniform distribution of water resources throughout the country. One of the tools, that seem to have the potential to help in the struggle for ensuring our water efficiency, is seawater desalination. Desalination methods, that are being used today, can be categorized in two principal groups : thermal methods and membrane methods. The most important candidate for solving global water problems, comes from the later group and it is called reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is based on the inversion of the natural osmosis phenomenon, for the separation of solutions with different salt concentrations. Today, it is estimated that more than 50% of the active desalination units use this method. The process of seawater desalination through reverse osmosis includes 7 basic steps : the seawater intake, the feed water pretreatment system, the high pressure pumps, the membrane modules, the energy recovery system for the rejecting brine stream, the post-treatment of desalted water and the brine disposal. The most important parts of the whole procedure are, undoubtedly, the membrane modules, where it takes place the desalination. These modules consist of the membranes, in various formations, and the pressure vessels. There are currently some commercially available membrane formations, but in the present thesis, hollow fiber membranes were selected for the proposed unit. This membrane formation has been has been modeled by Al-Bastaki and Abbas, among others, and their model is considered to be accurate because it takes into consideration many of the basic parameters that affect desalination process (concentration polarization etc). The mathematical model, which was built for the purpose of the present thesis, was based on Al-Bastaki and Abbas model. For the construction of the model, General Algebraic Modeling System – GAMS was used as a modeling tool. The nonlinear programming (NLP) problem, which was formulated through this procedure, was solved with CONOPT solver, in order to obtain the minimum desalted water cost for various values of the basic parameters. The results from the initial problem formulation, as long as the results from the various case studies, point that seawater reverse osmosis desalination can be a technically feasible and economically viable solution for the water scarcity problem. This becomes more clear in the case of the arid Greek islands, where the water transportation cost remains very high.

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