Water recovery in a concentrated solar power plant

Aikifa Raza, Alex R. Higgo, Abdulaziz Alobaidli, Tiejun Zhang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


For CSP plants, water consumption is undergoing increasing scrutiny particularly in dry and arid regions with water scarcity conditions. Significant amount of water has to be used for parabolic trough mirror cleaning to maintain high mirror reflectance and optical efficiency in sandy environment. For this specific purpose, solar collectors are washed once or twice every week at Shams 1, one of the largest CSP plant in the Middle East, and about 5 million gallons of demineralized water is utilized every year without further recovery. The produced waste water from a CSP plant contains the soiling i.e. accumulated dust and some amount of organic contaminants, as indicated by our analysis of waste water samples from the solar field. We thus need to develop a membrane based system to filter fine dust particulates and to degrade organic contaminant simultaneously. Membrane filtration technology is considered to be cost-effective way to address the emerging problem of a clean water shortage, and to reuse the filtered water after cleaning solar collectors. But there are some major technical barriers to improve the robustness and energy efficiency of filtration membranes especially when dealing with the removal of ultra-small particles and oil traces. Herein, we proposed a robust and scalable nanostructured inorganic microporous filtration copper mesh. The inorganic membrane surface wettability is tailored to enhance the water permeability and filtration flux by creating nanostructures. These nanostructured membranes were successfully employed to recover water collected after cleaning the reflectors of solar field of Shams 1. Another achievement was to remove the traces of heat transfer fluid (HTF) from run-off water which was collected after accidental leakage in some of the heat exchangers during the commissioning of the Shams 1 for safe disposal into the main stream. We hope, by controlling the water recovery factor and membrane reusability performance, the membrane design could be used for water conservation in CSP plants.

Original languageBritish English
Title of host publicationSolarPACES 2015
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems
EditorsVikesh Rajpaul, Christoph Richter
ISBN (Electronic)9780735413863
StatePublished - 31 May 2016
Event21st International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 13 Oct 201516 Oct 2015

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Conference21st International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2015
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
CityCape Town


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