Depletion of fresh groundwater sources as the result of overdraft, salinization and pollution becomes a major problem in parts of the world. Desalination of brackish groundwater by membrane technology, e.g. reverse osmosis (RO), seems to be a promising solution to water scarcity problems. However, energy consumption and concentrate disposal are considered as the main reasons for avoiding RO application. In order to overcome these drawbacks, the PURO concept, which consists of vertically-configured RO unit in an especially drilled well is designed, installed and is going to be tested. The installation operates without any chemical pretreatment and therefore, the concentrate can be injected into a deeper confined aquifer that contains water of similar concentration. To avoid chemical pretreatment, the system operates at lower recovery (50%) than conventional brackish groundwater reverse osmosis (BWRO). Higher energy consumption, as the results of lowering the recovery, is avoided by using natural hydrostatic pressure at the depth that RO is installed and by extracting the permeate water only. PURO consumes about 39% less energy when compared to a conventional BWRO installation of the same capacity. This article describes the PURO concept and discusses its advantages and disadvantages. It also provides a rough calculation of water cost for PURO and conventional BWRO with emphasizing on the energy costs.
- Brackish groundwater
- Reverse osmosis