Performance evaluation of the "large SMADES" autonomous desalination solar-driven membrane distillation plant in Aqaba, Jordan

Fawzi Banat, Nesreen Jwaied, Matthias Rommel, Joachim Koschikowski, Marcel Wieghaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


In search of new sources of water supply, seawater desalination is increasingly recognized as a viable option. In arid coastal areas, the lack of fresh water coincides often with an abundance of solar energy. Coupling desalination systems with renewable energy technologies is of great importance. Project SMADES funded by the EC has sponsored the development of a so-called "large SMADES" system. The system is designed to provide high quality potable water in remote coastal areas with low infrastructure and without connection to a grid. The energy for the desalination process is supplied entirely by solar thermal collectors in the form of heat on a temperature level of 60°C to 80°C. The desalination units are improved membrane distillation (MD) modules with internal heat recovery function. The electrical auxiliary energy which is required to drive the pumps and valves for the automatically operated systems is supplied by PV panels. The collector area is 72 m2, the hydraulic loop of the collector field comprises a solar heat storage tank of 3 m3 and the collector loop is separated from the seawater loop of the MDdesalination-modules. Automatic controls start up the desalination unit whenever sufficient sunlight is present to provide hot water and electricity for pumping from the solar collectors and PV panels. This paper describes this plant that has been assembled at the Marine Science Station (MSS) of Aqaba, Jordan, and presents the results of the first few months of operation. The feed water was seawater directly from the Red Sea.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)17-28
Number of pages12
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 5 Nov 2007


  • Membrane distillation
  • Performance ratio
  • Remote communities
  • Small-scale
  • Solar desalination


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