On the reduction of desalting energy and its cost in Kuwait

M. A. Darwish, S. Alotaibi, S. Alfahad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


All seawater desalting processes, multi-stage flash (MSF), multi-effect boiling (MEB), mechanical vapor compression (MVC) and seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) consume significant amounts of energy. The recent increase of fuel oil cost raises the cost of energy consumed for desalting water and the final water cost, and creates more interest in using more energy efficient desalting systems. The most used desalting systems by distillation (MSF and MEB) are usually combined with power plants in what is called co-generation power desalting plants, CPDP. Fuel is supplied to the CPDP to produce both desalted water D and power W, and the fuel cost is shared between D and W. Exergy analysis and equivalent work are among the methods used to determine the fuel energy charged to each product. When desalting systems, such as SWRO and MVC, are not combined with a power plant, the fuel energy can be directly determined from its electrical power consumption. In this paper, the fuel energy cost charged to desalting seawater in the presently used CPDP in Kuwait is calculated based on exergy analysis. The MSF, known by its high energy consumption, is the only desalting method used in Kuwait. The MSF units consume 258 kJ/kg thermal energy by steam supplied to the brine heater BH, 16 kJ/kg by steam supplied to steam ejectors, and 4 kWh/m3 mechanical energy for pumping. These MSF units are operated either by:(1)Steam extracted from extraction/condensing steam turbines EC/ST as in as in Doha West, Azzour, and Sabbiya CPDP. This practice is used in most Gulf area.(2)Steam supplied directly from boilers as occurred in single purpose desalting plants as Al Shuwaikh plant; or in winter time when no steam turbines are in operation in the CPDP to supply steam to the desalting units. The CPDP have limited water to power production ratio. While they can cope with the increase of power demand, it cannot satisfy the water demand, which is increasing with higher pace than the power demand. The case of steam CPDP used in Kuwait is presented in this paper as a reference plant to evaluate the amount of fuel energy consumed to desalt water in MJ/m3, its cost in $/m3. The resulted high fuel cost calls for some modifications in the reference CPDP to lower the energy cost, and to increase its water to power ratio. The modifications include the use of an auxiliary back-pressure steam turbine ABPST supplied with the steam presently extracted to the MSF units. The power output of the ABPST operates MVC or SWRO desalting units; while the ABPST discharged steam operates LT-MEB desalting unit. The desalting fuel energy costs when applying these modifications are also calculated by the exergy analysis and compared with that present situation. It is also suggested to increase desalted water output by using separate SWRO desalting units operated by the existing power plants of typical ηc = 0.388, or by new combined gas/steam turbines power cycle GT/ST-CC of typical ηc = 0.54 under construction. The SWRO with energy recovery is assumed to consume typical 5.2 kWh/m3 electric energy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-495
Number of pages13
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008


  • Cogeneration power desalting plants CPDP
  • Consumed thermal energy
  • Equivalent consumed work
  • MSF multi stage flash
  • Multi effect boiling and mechanical vapor desalting system
  • Reverse osmosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'On the reduction of desalting energy and its cost in Kuwait'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this