Energy consumption by multi-stage flash and reverse osmosis desalters

M. A. Darwish, Najem M. Al-Najem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Kuwait and most of the Gulf countries, depend mainly on desalted water from the sea for satisfying their fresh water needs. These countries are using the multi-stage flash (MSF) desalting system, as the `work horse' for their water production. This system is less efficient in energy consumption as compared to the reverse osmosis (RO) system. Moreover, large units based on the MSF system have to be combined with steam or gas turbines power plants for better utilization of steam supplied to the MSF units at moderately low temperature and pressure (as compared to steam produced by large steam generators). The value and the cost of the thermal energy supplied to the MSF desalting system depends on the method of supplying this energy. This steam can be supplied directly from a fuel operated boiler or heat recovery steam generator associated with a gas turbine. It can also be supplied from the exhaust of a steam back pressure turbine or bled from condensed extraction steam turbine at a pressure suitable for the desalting process. Any energy comparison should be based on simple criteria, either how much fuel energy is consumed to produce this energy or how much mechanical energy is needed per unit product. The energy consumed in the light of the practice used in most Gulf countries are discussed here. In this study, reference desalting and power plants are used for comparison purposes. This study shows that shifting from MSF desalting system to the RO system can save up to 66% of the fuel energy used to desalt seawater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-416
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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