Development of a Portable and Hybrid Solar-Driven Desalination (SDD) System using Vacuum Membrane Distillation Process

A. Chafidz, S. Nurkhamidah, S. Rusdi, S. Al-Zahrani
Universitas Islam Indonesia,

Keywords: solar desalination, solar energy, thermal collector, PV panel, vacuum membrane distillation, water production


Rapid growth of human population in the world has resulted in the increase of water and energy demands. Due to limited and polluted natural freshwater sources and declining world oil reserves, certainly will result in global water and energy crisis. The most promising solutions to solve this water-energy issue simultaneously is by using desalination process driven by renewable energy. Among several renewable energy sources, solar energy has the highest potential. This paper discuss about the design and fabrication of a portable and hybrid solar-driven desalination (SDD) unit. The SDD unit consists of three primary parts, which are solar thermal collector, solar photovoltaic (PV), and vacuum multi-effect membrane distillation (V-MEMD) unit. Solar thermal collector and solar photovoltaic were used to harvest solar energy and convert it into thermal and electrical energy, respectively. This thermal energy was used to run the V-MEMD unit for producing potable water, whereas electrical energy was used to power the entire SDD unit. Since the SDD unit did not rely on electricity from the grid and only utilizing solar energy for its operation, hence it is a stand-alone unit. Additionally, it is also a portable unit because all the equipment can be stored inside a commercial container and transported to anywhere necessary such as remote coast area or area affected by natural disasters. A small-scale test was conducted to evaluate the performance of the SDD unit. The SDD unit run for about seven hours from 08:00 to 15:00 by only utilizing solar energy. The feed used for the test was brackish water with conductivity of approximately 2300 µs/cm. In general, the profiles of global irradiation, solar-thermal power as well as the solar-electricity power for the test conducted during spring season were all higher than the test conducted during winter season. The average global irradiation level was 601 W/m2. Additionally, the efficiency of solar irradiation converted into thermal power by evacuated tubes thermal collector was averagely 37.33%. Whereas, the average distillate production rate and total distillate collected were about 11.24 L/h and 67.8 L. Furthermore, the conductivity of water produced was 4.7 μS/cm.