Feasible Solar Applications for Brines Disposal in Desalination Plants

Shiva Gorjian, Farid Jalili Jamshidian, Behnam Hosseinqolilou. “Feasible Solar Applications for Brines Disposal in Desalination Plants.” in Solar Desalination Technology Springer, Singapore, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-6887-5_2

Abstract: Water is a crucial ingredient for human health and one of the very few vital needs of human beings. More than 1.2 billion people around the work suffer from a deficiency of safe drinking water so that it is estimated that 14% of the global population lives in water-scarce regions by 2050. Although desalination has been used as conventional water providing technology for a long time in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, it has extensive capacities in the USA, Europe, and Australia as well.

Interest in investment in desalination sector has been extending beyond these regions of the world which are driven by water stress concerns. Even though desalination has the potential to increase the water supply in water-scarce regions, its associated adverse consequences and constraints cannot be ignored.

Brine disposal is the primary environmental consequence that should be considered and studied when installing a desalination plant. Therefore, essential steps must be taken to ensure safe and sustainable brine disposal. Implementation of a proper brine disposal method incorporated with a qualified design and construction procedure can mitigate the destructive effects of the desalination plants on the water environments and groundwater aquifers.

Using solar power as a renewable source can both imitate the environmental impacts of the conventional brine disposal methods and an increase in the evaporation rate of the solar traditional evaporation ponds. Directing the brine effluent into the solar saltworks can possibly produce salt, and therefore, the desalination plant would be zero liquid discharge (ZLD). This method requires large land areas and thus is only applicable in arid and semi-arid regions where the evaporation rates are high and the value of the land is low. Also, expensive liners are needed to avert salt seepage from the soil and the groundwater contamination. If the evaporation rate is improved, the need for the same amount of land would consequently be reduced. Enhancing the rate of evaporation would have two benefits of the flexibility to increase the amount of the brine wastewater flows out of an evaporation pond and a reduced amount of land that would be needed to achieve the same rate of evaporation.

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