Techno-Economic Assessment of Air and Water Gap Membrane Distillation for Seawater Desalination under Different Heat Source Scenarios

Authors: David Amaya-Vías, Juan Antonio López-Ramírez

Summary: Membrane distillation (MD) has a great deal of potential and this is currently being explored by the scientific community. However, this technology has not yet been implemented by industry, and an estimation of final product costs is key to its commercial success. In this study a techno-economic assessment of air gap MD (AGMD) and water gap MD (WGMD) for seawater desalination under different capacities and heat source scenarios was developed. The simplified cost of water (SCOW) method, which estimates investment costs, fixed and variable costs, as well as amortization factors and price influence over time was applied. In addition, experimental data from a laboratory-scale MD desalination plant were also used. The results showed water costs in the range of 1.56 to 7.53 €/m3 for WGMD and 2.38 to 9.60 €/m3 for AGMD. Specifically, the most feasible scenario was obtained for WGMD with a capacity of 1000 m3 daily using waste and solar heat. Finally, the costs obtained for MD were similar to those of conventional desalination technologies at the same scale factor. Therefore, although large-scale pilot studies and optimization of manufacturing processes are needed, MD shows very promising results that should be considered further.

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sustainable heat
desalinates water