Advancing the Pre-treatment Technology for RO Desalination Using Solar Photocatalysis: Reactor design aspects

  • Abdulrahman K. Al Ali

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Having fresh water from natural resources is uncommon in the Gulf's nations. This raises a challenge to find a sustainable supply of clean water by implementing membrane desalination plants that can utilize the brackish or seawater resources in order to produce a drinkable grade. For industry, the membrane purification treatment of wastewater effluents has been an attractive approach for meeting the environmental regulations for disposal. The reverse osmosis process suffers from organic fouling which adds to the cleaning and operating cost and reduces the membrane lifetime. Hence the need to introduce a photocatalytic reactor ahead of the reverse osmosis unit in order to reduce the amount of organic foulant. This will lower the chemical and economic footprint of running the membrane process. We are trying to integrate the solar light, in order to use sustainable energy to drive the degradation process of organic pollutants rather than adding more costs through artificial UV lambs. In this study, we discuss the feasibility of conveying the direct beam of the solar light to the immobilized catalyst on the capillary's inner surface to supply the necessary photons for the photocatalytic reaction. The analysis was performed by ray tracing simulation using Multiphysics COMSOL 5.4 in order the find out the best configuration of the reactor design for maximum irradiance. The studied parameters include the effect of the incident angle, wavelength, capillary diameter, coating thickness on the light distribution within the capillary. The simulation results show that large incident angle assists in light conveying to further depth into the capillary. Varying the wavelengths and the coating thickness have a minimum effect on the ray propagation pattern, yet they impact the absorbance, while altering the inner diameter affects the propagation pattern and the absorbance rate.
Date of AwardMay 2020
Original languageAmerican English


  • These are keywords or phrases ray tracing
  • solar spectrum
  • refraction
  • catalyst absorption and light irradiance.

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