Exergy analysis of a combined RO, NF, and EDR desalination plant

Kahraman N. , ÇENGEL Y., Wood B., Cerci Y.

DESALINATION, vol.171, no.3, pp.217-232, 2005 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 171 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.desal.2004.05.006
  • Title of Journal : DESALINATION
  • Page Numbers: pp.217-232


A brackish water desalination plant in California that incorporates RO, NF, and EDR units was analyzed thermodynamically using actual plant operation data. Exergy flow rates were evaluated throughout the plant, and the exergy flow diagrams were prepared. The rates of exergy destruction and their percentage are indicated on the diagram so that the locations of highest exergy destruction can easily be identified. The analysis shows that most exergy destruction occurs in the pump/motor and the separation units. The fraction of exergy destruction in the pump/motor units is 39.7% for the RO unit, 23.6% for the NF unit, and 54.1% for the EDR unit. Therefore, using high-efficiency pumps and motors equipped with VFD drives can reduce the cost of desalination significantly. The plant was determined to have a Second Law efficiency of 8.0% for the RO unit, 9.7% for the NF unit, and 6.3% for the EDR unit, which are very low. This indicates that there are major opportunities in the plant to improve thermodynamic performance by reducing exergy destruction and thus the amount of electrical energy supplied, making the operation of the plant more cost effective.