Life cycle cost of dilution desalination in off-grid locations: A study of water reuse integrated with seawater desalination technology

Pirooz Pazouki, Rodney A. Stewart, Edoardo Bertone, Fernanda Helfer, NorEddine Ghaffour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination is a proven technology for augmenting water supply in remote areas with limited access to fresh water resources. Lowering the energy consumption of SWRO is crucial in such areas where the source of energy is often reliant on transported liquid fuels. This study presents a life cycle cost model for two diluted desalination processes using water reuse to dilute seawater, and reduce energy consumption. The economic model details the life cycle capital and operational costs of i) a baseline SWRO desalination, ii) alternative osmotic dilution desalination in a forward osmosis (FO)–reverse osmosis (RO) hybrid system, and iii) a mixed dilution desalination process in an ultrafiltration (UF)–RO system. The results reveal a 4–5% lower total water cost associated with the two alternative processes compared to conventional SWRO. Sensitivity analysis revealed that the FO–RO system is an economically viable alternative to standalone RO if a water flux ≥6 L·m−2 h−1 and a recovery rate >25% can be achieved. The sensitivity analysis showed that diluted desalination with UF–RO was economically preferable to SWRO even when the water flux and recovery rate of UF meet only minimum thresholds (18 L·m−2 h−1 and 55%, respectively).
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114584
StatePublished - Jun 29 2020

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge Griffith Science Group for their financial support. The Cities Research Institute provided the facility at which to install the laboratory test equipment. The authors would also like to acknowledge assistance from SEQ water, City of Gold Coast, Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Sterlitech, Enviroconcepts and Bluetec for providing the technical support for this research. The authors also thank Professor Ho Kyong Shon from the Centre for Technology in Water and Wastewater at the University of Sydney (UTS). The comments and views detailed herein may not necessarily reflect the views of the acknowledged groups mentioned in this paper.


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