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Desalination, 97 (1994) 301-311

Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam -

Printed in The Netherlands

301

Hydro-powered reverse osmosis (RO) desalination for


co-generation: A Middle East case study
Masahiro Murakami
Nippon Koei Co. Ltd. Consulting Engineers, 54 Koojimachi Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo IO2

(Japan)

SUMMARY

A new co-generation application of the hydro-power development


with application of reverse osmosis (RO) desalination is demonstrated in
this paper, in which the technical feasibility of the hydro-powered
reverse osmosis desalination system is examined in the Aqaba-Disi water
pipeline project in Jordan and Galala-Red Sea seawater pumped-storage
scheme in Egypt. Substantial reduction in the operating cost and energy
could improve the cost constraints of the desalination technology. The
unit cost of the hydro-powered reverse osmosis desalination is
preliminarily estimated to be US$o.4/m3 for brackish groundwater and
US$O.68/m3 for seawater.

INTRODU(JIION

Most countries in the Middle East already have a water deficit. They
consume every drop of the rechargeable (annually renewed) water
available to them in the rivers and subsurface aquifers and are rapidly
mining underground fossil water that can be used once and then is gone
for good.
Jordan and many other Arab states will also soon be depleting their
own renewable sources if current patterns of water consumption am not
quickly and radically altered.
OOll-9164/94/$07.00 0 1994 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
SsDIOOll-9164(94)00094-5

302

Non-conventional water resources and energy development, including


desalination of seawater and brackish waters by a co-generation method,
will be a key issue of the water resources planning in arid to semi-arid
countries in the 21st century. The application of groundwater-hydro and
seawater pumped-storage with RO desalination, which is a new type of
co-generation
system proposed herewith, is likely to be a key
technological development in this region for the strategic objectives of
saving fossil energy and the global environment. Two case studies of
hydro-powered brackish groundwater RO desalination in Aqaba-Disi
water pipeline project in Jordan and hydro-powered seawater RO
desalination in Galala-Red Sea pumped-storage scheme in Egypt are
examined in this study.

AQABAWATER SUPPLY PROJECT IN JORDAN


Aqaba is situated at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea and
at the southern end of Wadi Araba (Fig. 1) Aqaba is an important
commercial center of Jordan with expansion being accompanied by a
rapid growth of industrial development along Jordans limited coastline.
Owing to a hyper-arid climate of the southern Jordan, water supply has
been a major constraint of the Aqaba regional development. The Disi
wellfield, which is located at 50 km northeast of Aqaba with an
elevation at 840 m, was selected for the source of water supply scheme.
The Disi is a non-renewable (fossil) aquifer, however, with less
salinity in the range between 300 and 400 ppm of total dissolved solids.
From a model simulation study, the aquifer has been estimated to sup ort
a maximum abstraction in the range between 17 x 106m3 to 19 x 10B m3
per annum for at least 50 years [ 11. A ductile iron trunk main 800-450
mm in diameter and 92 km long carries the water from Disi to Aqaba and
southwards to the Fertilizer Factory near the Saudi border. Pressure is
broken at three locations along the pipeline to limit pressure to a
maximum of 25 (kg/cm*) as shown in profile of the trunk main on Fig. 1.

DISI-AQABA
SCHEME

HYDRO-POWERED

REVERSE

OSMOSIS

DESALINATION

A proposed hydro-powered RO desalination is a non-conventional


application of co-generating system by annexing groundwater-hydro
system with RO desalination unit.

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Fig. 1. Aqaba-Disi water supply scheme for co-generation.

The pioneer research on the brackish groundwater RO desalination in


Jordan includes the following objectives;
1) Development of potential energy in a water pipeline (trunk main) to
conserve and/or retrieve clean energy. The existing pipeline system

304

comprises 5.2 MW of theoretical hydro-potential for a total head of


840 m, which is being wasted.
2) Conservation of non-renewable fresh groundwater in Disi aquifer to
replace it by developing brackish groundwater in the Khreim and/or
Kurnub sandstones.
3) Hydro-electric
development to supply a part of peak power
electricity, using 400 m of water head difference in the existing trunk
main.
4) Brackish groundwater RO desalination to supply fresh with direct use
of hydro-potential energy at 200 m of water head difference in the
existing trunk main.
The brackish groundwater with salinity about 4,000 ppm/TDS would
be exploited from the potential wellfields in the Khreim and/or Kumub
formations near the Disi, of which the potential is preliminary estimated
to be 1 m3/s to replace it with the fossil groundwater in the Disi aquifer.
The average discharge of the trunk main is assumed to be 17.5 x 106/y
(0.555 ms/s), which is equivalent to a design capacity of 0.663 m3/s with
a unit operating time of 21 hours per day. The brackish water flows down
from collecting reservoir (E.L = 840 m) to desalination plant as terminal
reservoir (EL = 220 m), through existing pipeline system passing by two
hydro-power stations by steps; the 1st hydra-power station (E.L = 630 m)
and the 2nd hydro-power station (E.L = 410 m). The installed capacity
and annual power output of the two stations are estimated to be 2,078
kW and 15,900 MWh per annum in total, respectively (Table I). The
following equations are used by assuming a 5% of friction head loss,
0.80 of synthesized efficiency and 0.873 of generating efficiency;
Pth

9.8*Q*He

(1)

Pth*Ef

(2)

WP

365*24*GPkP

(3)

where

Pth

He
P
Ef
wp
Gf

:
:
:
:
:

Hydro-potential (kw)
Flow discharge (m3/s)
Effective difference head of water (m)
Installed capacity (kW)
Synthesized efficiency (-)
Potential power generation per annum (kWh)
Generating efficiency

305
TABLE I
Installed

capacity and annual power output of Disi-Aqaba scheme

Power
station

Elevation
(m)

No. 1
No. 2
No. 3

630
410
220

(Total)

Effective head Installed capacity Potential power generation


(m)
0
VW)
200
200
180

1,039
1,039

7,946*
7,946*
81&

(2,078)

(woc9*

@lo)**

* Hydro-power potential of groundwater-hydro


** Energy recovery fkom hydro-powered RO
desalination.
1) Friction head loss is assumed to be 5 5 of the total head.
2) Synthesized efficiency is assumed to be 0.80.
3) Load factor of mini hydra-power generation at 83.7 % (0.555Kl.663).
4) Elevation of the collecting reservoir is at 840 m above sea level.
5) Elevation of the terminal reservoir is at 220 m above sea level.

Remarks:

The hydro-powered RO system is composed of three parts; 1st part of


the pre-treatment unit, 2nd part of the pressure pipeline unit, and the 3rd
part of the RO unit, of which the system profile is shown in Fig. 1. The
pre-treatment unit is to be sited just beside the outlet of the 2nd minihydro-power station (E.L = 410 m), including dual-media filters (hydroanthracite & fine sands), and cartridge filters (5 micron size). After
passing through the cartridge filter, the flow water is connected with a
pressure pipeline (trunk main between 410 m and 220 m) to obtain the
hydraulic pressure at 18 kg/cm2, which is directly used to transfer the
osmosis pressure to be needed to permeate the RO membrane. The main
heart of the RO unit is a membrane, which is a low-pressure type, spiral
wounded compost type with 8 inch diameter, including the
specifications; i) salt rejection rate of 87.5%, ii) design operating
pressure of 18 kg/cm2, iii) design amount of permeate of 30 ms per day,
and iv) maximum operating water temperature at 4OOC,and v) pH of
feed water between 6.0 and 6.5.

306

A unit line of the RO vessel consists of a series circuit with six


modules. Recovery is estimated to be 70 % of the feedwater, including
41,100 m3/d of permeate with salinity at 500 ppm of TDS and 10,200
ms/d of brine reject with TDS at 17,700 ppm. The effective pressure of
the brine reject is estimated to be 15 kg/cm2 by assuming the friction loss
of 3 kg/cm2 in the RO circuit. The potential energy recovery from the
RO brine reject is preliminary estimated to be 136 kW (= 9.8*
(10,200/86,400) * 15*9.8*0.8), which is equivalent to generate the
electricity of 810,000 kWh per annum by assuming the generating
efficiency of 68% (Table I).
The investment cost of the proposed hydra-powered RO desalination
scheme is preliminary estimated to be US$56,088,000. The annual cost
is estimated to be US$ 2,677,OOOper annum for the capital and US$
2,631,OOO per annum for the operation and maintenance (Table II).
This cost estimate is based on 1990 price and 8% of interest, assuming
1) three years of construction of the plant, 2) plant life of 20 years, 3)
membrane life (replacement) of 3 years, 4) excluding cost benefit from
energy recovery, 5) excluding costs for groundwater development and
pipeline/distribution
The unit cost of the permeate, which will supply
14.6 x 106 ms per annum of fresh water to the Aqaba municipality, is
preliminary estimated to be US$O.4l/ms.

GAL,AL,A-RED SEA PUMPED-STORAGE SCHEME

Two unique ideas of the seawater pumped-storage development have


been discussed in Egypt, including Qatara solar-hydro scheme and
Galala-Red Sea pumped-storage scheme (see Fig. 2), to supply peak
power electricity in the county.
The scheme involves flooding a natural depression in the Western
desert (the Qatara) through a canal or tunnel from the Mediterranean Sea,
56 km away (see Fig. 2) At its lowest point, the depression is 134 m
below sea level. The plan envisages generating power utilizing the fall
in water to the lake which will eventually be formed, and of which
surface will be 60 m below sea level, with an area of 19,500 km2. The
theoretical hydro-potential has been estimated to be 315 MW, which
includes the pumped-storage alternatives with installed capacity at 9002,000MW [2].
Construction of new thermal or nuclear power stations in Egypt has
encouraged the Electric Authority to build a pumped-storage plant. In
1989, feasibility study on the 600 MW of seawater pumped-storage
scheme was carried out in the North Galala plateau, 55 km south of Suez

TABLE II

Major cost elements of Aqaba-Disi scheme


Major capital cost element

Pre-treatment
Desalting plant
RO membrane/equipment

Controland operatingsystem
Appurtenantworks
Powerlineand substation
Energyrecovery/turbine
Sub-total
Design and construction management:
Financial expenditure:

US$(1990price)
6,468,OOO
10,306,ooo
12,417,000
871,000
3,954,ooo
1,143,ooo
255,000
35,414,ooo
9,111,ooo
11,563,000

Major O&M cost element

US$ per annum

Labor
Material supply
Chemicals
Membrane replacement
sub-total

544,000
272,OQO
1,089,OOO
726,000
2,63 1,000

(see Fig. 2). The scheme will utilize seawater which would be pumped
directly to a natural basin located 587 m above sea level with a storage
capacity of 8.2x 106 m3 [2].To compare with the Qatara solar-hydra
scheme, Galala-Read Sea seawater pumped-storage scheme has two
advantages as shown below;
i) Delete a substantial capital cost of intake tunnel or canal with a
length 60 to 80km.
ii)Minimize the environmental problems of the artificial lake.
The world first seawater pumped-storage scheme, which has been
conceived in the early 1980s in Egypt, includes some technical problems
such as corrosion of pipe and turbine system. This unique application of
non-conventional hydro-power, however, would be marginally feasible
in the arid region where deficit of the peak power demand is substantial.

\
./8/

26

_a

Mediterranean Sea

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---

TunneVConduit
Solar-tiydm Power Station

Seawuer Pumped-Storage Scheme


Hydra-Power Staion
ScUm-Power Station
~pnrmiuion Line (Existing)
Trammission Line (Plan)

I
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i

Fig. 2. Location map of Qatara Depression and Galala Highland.

APPLICATION

OF HYDRO-POWERED

REVERSE OSMOSIS DESALINATION

IN A SEAWATER PUMPED-STORAGE SCHEME?

The co-generation system is an application of RO desalination


annexing to the seawater pumped-storage scheme with 600 MW of
installed capacity at differential head of 587 m, of which the schematic
profile is shown in Fig. 3. The design flow discharge of the seawater
pumped-storage scheme is preliminary estimated to be 119 m3/s (= 600
x 103/ (9.8 x 1.03 x 587 x 0.85)), by assuming specific weight of
seawater of 1.03 and synthesized efficiency of 0.85.

&

309

Fig. 3. Schematic profile of pumped-storage scheme for co-generation.

The pumped-storage scheme is designed to generate peak power of 4-8


hours a day. The marginal operation of the RO system is designed to
retrieve the hydro-potential energy in a penstock pipeline with 587 m of
head difference during 16-20 hours a day of the off-peak tune.
The feed water requirements to produce 100 x lo6 m3 per annum of
permeate with 1,000 mgIl of TDS are estimated to be 333 x lo6 m3 per
annum by assuming 30% of recovery ratio (70 % for brine reject). The
installed capacity of the RO unit is estimated to be 322,300 m3/d with
load factor at 85%. The main heart of the RO unit is a membrane
module which is designed to have 1) salt rejection rate of 99%, 2)
operating pressure at 5Okg/cm2, and 3) design quantity of permeate of 13
ms/d. The requirement of the RO modules will amount to 30,000 in
total.
The energy recovery potential from the brine reject is estimated to be
28,280 kW (= 9.8 x 1.03 x (233 x 106/ 365/86400) x (587 x 0.95 x 0.8) x
0.85) by assuming friction loss of 20% in the RO circuit.
Annual
product of the electricity from the RO brine is estimated to be annual
generation of 168 x lo6 kWh of electricity with load factor at 68%. The
recovered energy (electricity) will be used to supply electricity for the

310

post-treatment process or others to save the electricity from the national


grid.
The total investment cost for the proposed hydro-powered seawater
RO desalination unit is preliminary estimated to be US$ 389,355,OOO.
The annual cost is estimated to be US$ 18,568,OOOof the capital and
US$44,387,000 of the operation and maintenance (O&M) as shown in
Table III.
The unit water cost of the hydro-powered seawater reverse osmosis
desalination to produce fresh water of 100 x 106 m3 per annum is
preliminary estimated to be US$O.68/m3.
TABLE III

Major cost elements of Galala-Red Sea scheme


Major capital cost element
Pm-treatment
Desalting plant
RO membrane/equipment
Control and operating system
Appurtenant works
Powerline and substation
Energy recovery/turbine
sub-total
Design and construction management
Financial expenditure
Major O&M cost element

US$ (1990 price)


44,195,ooo
70,414,ooo
84,835,ooo
5,952,OOO
27,013,OOO
11,427,OOO
2,999,ooo
246,835,OOO
62,250,OOO
80~70,ooo
US$ per annum

3,718,ooo
Labor
1,860,OOO
Material supply
7,440,ooo
Chemicals
Power (pumped-storage for RO feedwater) 3,100,OOO
28,269,OOO
Membrane replacement
sub-total

44,387,OOO

311
CONCLUDDJG REMARKS

Application studies on the hydro-powered RO desalination including


two case studies in Jordan (brackish groundwater) and Egypt (seawater)
suggests a substantial reduction in operating cost and energy which has
long been a major constraints in the desalination practice. The
desalination of saline water by the membrane process with low energy
requirement, will play an increasingly important role in the water
resources planning of the next decade. This study attempts to evaluate
some new non-conventional approaches to water resources which need to
taken into account in building the new peace of the Middle East. These
new approach offer the opportunity to introduce new applications of
well-tried technology to solve long-standing water problems which are at
the center of many of the potential source of conflict.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The author wishes to express his deep appreciation to Professor


Dr. Katsumi Musiake of University of Tokyo for his guidance, valuable
advice and concern in all matters related to this study.

REFERENCES
1

RNA - Howard Humphereys Ltd., Groundwater Resources Study in the Shidiya Area, Main
Report, pp. 49-112 (1986).

WPDC, World News, Egypt Plans Seawater Pumped-Storage Plant, Water Power & Dam
Construction, January (1989), p. 4.