An exergy approach to efficiency evaluation of desalination

Kim Choon Ng, Muhammad Wakil Shahzad, Hyuk Soo Son, Osman A. Hamed

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70 Scopus citations


This paper presents an evaluation process efficiency based on the consumption of primary energy for all types of practical desalination methods available hitherto. The conventional performance ratio has, thus far, been defined with respect to the consumption of derived energy, such as the electricity or steam, which are susceptible to the conversion losses of power plants and boilers that burned the input primary fuels. As derived energies are usually expressed by the units, either kWh or Joules, these units cannot differentiate the grade of energy supplied to the processes accurately. In this paper, the specific energy consumption is revisited for the efficacy of all large-scale desalination plants. In today's combined production of electricity and desalinated water, accomplished with advanced cogeneration concept, the input exergy of fuels is utilized optimally and efficiently in a temperature cascaded manner. By discerning the exergy destruction successively in the turbines and desalination processes, the relative contribution of primary energy to the processes can be accurately apportioned to the input primary energy. Although efficiency is not a law of thermodynamics, however, a common platform for expressing the figures of merit explicit to the efficacy of desalination processes can be developed meaningfully that has the thermodynamic rigor up to the ideal or thermodynamic limit of seawater desalination for all scientists and engineers to aspire to.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184101
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 2 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): FCC/1/1971-03-01
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) (CCF3 Project No: FCC/1/1971-03-01) and Desalination Technology Research Institute (DTRI) of SWCC.


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