Efficiency improvement of seawater desalination processes: the case of the W.E.B. Aruba N.V. on the island of Aruba

Filomeno Arsenio Marchena

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research external, graduation UT

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Seawater desalination is known worldwide as the most important source for the production of drinking water in arid areas where there are practically no natural water resources and consequently insufficient surface water or groundwater. However the desalination technology still remains a very costly process despite the many innovations it went through since its introduction to reduce water production cost. The island of Aruba has earned worldwide throughout its desalination history since 1932 an excellent reputation for the application of the costly seawater desalination technology for the production of one of the world’s highest quality drinking water. In view of the importance of sustainable and reliable production and distribution of drinking water for the population, for the economy, industry and in particular for the tourism in Aruba it is of mere importance to continuously seek for improvements to effectively reduce desalination cost. On the contrary to the global trend of research efforts in developing new alternative sustainable desalination technology, this PhD research concentrates on the other important, sometimes forgotten, aspect of sustainability namely the operation and maintenance efficiency improvement especially in the present application of the costly conventional desalination technology to effectively reduce energy consumption and consequently reducing operation cost and environmental pollution toward Green Desalination. Years of practical desalination experience have pointed out the physicochemical treatment, maintenance, technology innovation and the implementation of new technology as the most important technical aspect to improve efficiency. In particular the human aspect governing the whole spectrum of these technical aspects is of eminent importance. The main objective of this PhD research is to illustrate the effectiveness of the applied technologies and techniques at the Desalination Department of W.E.B. Aruba N.V., validating the developed Continuous Desalination Efficiency Improvement process primarily based on the specified improvement aspects to guarantee an environmental friendly and cost effective production and distribution of drinking water with a high chemical and bacteriological quality. Further in this research project a new leadership (Efficacious Motivational Leadership) approach is developed enabling effective deployment of the work force through effective involvement and empowering to support the improvement process. Simple socio-technological models based on well-known technological scientific models are developed as metaphors to explain human behavior and attitude and to promote motivation and team work. Further to improve maintenance a new maintenance (the Efficacy Oriented Maintenance) approach is developed and applied which significantly decreased pump and process failures. With respect to the physicochemical aspect new chemicals have been developed and applied in cooperation with the chemical supplier to effectively mitigate biofouling and scaling promoting stable operation. Also three patents have been registered for innovated desalination processes.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • Halman, Johannes I.M., Supervisor
  • van der Hoek, J.P., Supervisor, External person
Award date11 Sept 2013
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-0127-9
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sept 2013


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