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Energy Efficiency Of Staged Reverse Osmosis (RO) And Closed-circuit Reverse Osmosis (CCRO) Desalination: A Model-based Comparison

Simeng Li, Karla Duran, Saied Delagah, Joe Mouawad, Xudong Jia, Mohamadali Sharbatmaleki

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Abstract Reverse osmosis (RO) technologies have been widely implemented around the world to address the rising severity of freshwater scarcity. As desalination capacity increases, reducing the energy consumption of the RO process per permeate volume (i.e., specific energy consumption) is of particular importance. In this study, numerical models are used to characterize and compare the energy efficiency of one-stage continuous RO, multi-stage continuous RO, and closed-circuit RO (CCRO) processes. The simulated results across a broad range of feed salinity (5,000–50,000 ppm, i.e., 5–50 g kg−1) and recovery (40%–95%) demonstrate that, compared with the most common one-stage continuous RO, two-stage and three-stage continuous RO can reduce the specific energy consumption by up to 40.9% and 53.6%, respectively, while one-stage and two-stage CCRO can lead to 45.0% and 67.5% reduction, respectively. The differences in energy efficiencies of various RO configurations are more salient when desalinating high-salinity feed at a high recovery ratio. From the standpoints of energy saving and capital cost, the simulated results indicate that multi-stage CCRO is an optimal desalination process with great potential for practical implementation.