Desalination Processes’ Efficiency and Future Roadmap

Muhammad Wakil Shahzad, Muhammad Burhan, Doskhan Ybyraiymkul, Kim Choon Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


For future sustainable seawater desalination, the importance of achieving better energy efficiency of the existing 19,500 commercial-scale desalination plants cannot be over emphasized. The major concern of the desalination industry is the inadequate approach to energy efficiency evaluation of diverse seawater desalination processes by omitting the grade of energy supplied. These conventional approaches would suffice if the efficacy comparison were to be conducted for the same energy input processes. The misconception of considering all derived energies as equivalent in the desalination industry has severe economic and environmental consequences. In the realms of the energy and desalination system planners, serious judgmental errors in the process selection of green installations are made unconsciously as the efficacy data are either flawed or inaccurate. Inferior efficacy technologies’ implementation decisions were observed in many water-stressed countries that can burden a country’s economy immediately with higher unit energy cost as well as cause more undesirable environmental effects on the surroundings. In this article, a standard primary energy-based thermodynamic framework is presented that addresses energy efficacy fairly and accurately. It shows clearly that a thermally driven process consumes 2.5–3% of standard primary energy (SPE) when combined with power plants. A standard universal performance ratio-based evaluation method has been proposed that showed all desalination processes performance varies from 10–14% of the thermodynamic limit. To achieve 2030 sustainability goals, innovative processes are required to meet 25–30% of the thermodynamic limit.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 18 2019

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): 7000000411
Acknowledgements: Funding:This research was funded by [KAUST and MEDAD] grant number [7000000411]. Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank KAUST for support for this study and hybrid MEDAD cycle results.


Dive into the research topics of 'Desalination Processes’ Efficiency and Future Roadmap'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this