Design and results of a first generation pilot plant for supercritical water desalination (SCWD)

Surika van Wyk (Corresponding Author), Samuel O. Odu, Aloysius G.J. van der Ham, Sascha R.A. Kersten

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A pilot plant of 5 kg/h based on the principle of supercritical water desalination (SCWD) has been designed, built and operated. The detailed design, operating procedures and performance of the plant is presented in this paper, along with the first results. Firstly, the plant has been tested for feed streams of 3.5 wt% NaCl to evaluate the stability and repeatability of the system, with the results indicating that mass balance closure is good and that reproducible results can be obtained. Furthermore, the results showed that 93% of the feed is recovered as fresh drinking water, which corresponds with expected results from phase equilibria simulations. The plant was further tested for higher feed concentrations of up to 16 wt% NaCl. For all feed concentrations, the NaCl concentration of the SCW was that of drinking water quality (< 600 ppm). Experimentally, using a single stage separator, a concentrated brine (38 wt% NaCl) was obtained and calculations showed that with a two-stage flash-evaporation scheme, zero liquid discharge (ZLD) can be obtained. Further modifications to the plant and tests with other salt mixtures are recommended in order to advance to industrial application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-92
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Supercritical water
  • Desalination
  • Zero liquid discharge (ZLD)
  • Pilot plant


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