Optimizing the energy recovery section in thermal desalination systems for improved thermodynamic, economic, and environmental performance

Muhammad Ahmad Jamil, Talha S. Goraya, Kim Choon Ng, Syed M. Zubair, Ben Bin Xu, Muhammad Wakil Shahzad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Integration of energy recovery section with thermal desalination systems improves their performance from thermodynamics, economics, and environmental viewpoints. This is because it significantly reduces input energy, heat transfer area, and capital cost requirements. Above all, the system outlet streams can achieve thermal equilibrium with the environment by supplying heat for useful preheating purposes thus reducing the environmental impacts. The plate heat exchangers are generally employed for this purpose as preheaters. The current paper presents a comprehensive investigation and optimization of these heat exchangers for thermal desalination systems applications. An experimentally validated numerical model employing Normalized Sensitivity Analysis and Genetic Algorithm based cost optimization is developed to investigate their performance at assorted operating conditions. The analysis showed that the heat transfer coefficient, pressure drop, and outlet water cost were improved by an increase in feed flow rate. However, with an increased flow rate, the comprehensive output parameter (h/ΔP) decreased due to the high degree increase in pressure drop. Moreover, an increase in the chevron angle reduced the heat transfer coefficient, pressure drop, and water cost. Finally, the optimization lowered the heat transfer area by ~79.5%, capital investment by ~62%, and the outlet cost of the cold stream by ~15.7%. The operational cost is increased due to the increased pressure drop but the overall impact is beneficial as Ctotal of equipment is reduced by ~52.7%.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105244
JournalInternational Communications in Heat and Mass Transfer
StatePublished - Mar 23 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-03-30
Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the support provided by Northumbria University, UK under reference # RDF20/EE/MCE/SHAHZAD and MCE QR funds 2020/21. Ben Xu would like to thank the support from EPSRC grants EP/N007921/1.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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