Ultrafiltration versus sedimentation-based pretreatment in Fujairah-1 RO plant: Environmental impact study

Tariq Al-Sarkal, Hassan A. Arafat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Commonly, the main contributors to the environmental impacts of desalination are energy consumptions and chemical usage. In this work, two alternatives for pretreatment of seawater feed to Fujairah-1 seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) plant, in United Arab Emirates, were compared: sedimentation-based and ultrafiltration (UF) membrane-based pretreatment. Life cycle analysis (LCA) methodology was applied in this case study research, based on real data from the Fujairah-1 plant for the sedimentation-based system and full design data for the alternative UF system, provided by X-Flow®. By use of the LCA, a comprehensive environmental modeling of the considered options was conducted. The pretreatment systems, including their components (e.g., equipment) and material and energy flows throughout their lifetime, were modeled. Environmental impacts of these systems, using alternative energy mixes, were also modeled.Our findings indicate that a membrane-based pretreatment has a lower environmental impact, throughout the system's life cycle, than the existing sedimentation-based pretreatment in the Fujairah-1 desalination plant. This result holds under all alternative energy mix assumptions; including renewable, natural gas, oil, and nuclear energy. Our findings also show that the most significant contributor to the overall environmental impacts of both pretreatment systems is energy consumption. •Two alternatives for pretreatment of seawater feed to Fujairah-1 SWRO were compared.•Life cycle analysis (LCA) methodology was applied in this research based on plant and design data.•UF-based pretreatment has a lower environmental impact throughout the system's life cycle.•This result holds under all alternative energy mix assumptions; including renewable, and nuclear.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalDesalination
Volume317
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 May 2013

Keywords

  • Desalination
  • Environmental impact
  • Fujairah-1
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Pretreatment
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Sedimentation
  • Ultrafiltration

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