Key Innovation Areas of Expertise

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Key innovation areas of expertise

This open research infrastructure with highly qualified researchers, desalination plant operators and managers allows to expand existing knowledge, locally generates new products and patents, provides solutions adapted to island or decentralized territories and proposes strategies for exploiting the existing renewable energy potential (wind, sun, waves) associated with desalination. The priority innovation lines on which the Living Lab has research resources and capabilities are:
1

Automation of the desalination process

The high number of signals and information flow to be managed in desalination requires the use of systems with complex architectures, distributed controls and advanced systems, such as predictive adaptive controls. To this, it can be added the possibility of massive data collection allowed by the new technologies through sensors and measuring instruments connected to computer systems and that require a treatment that gives meaning and utility to introduce improvements in efficiency and cost control (big data; artificial intelligence; etc.)

2

Advanced maintenance 4.0

The intensive operation of high-performance equipment (e.g. high-pressure pumps) in a highly aggressive and corrosive environment requires the application of preventive and predictive maintenance criteria on fully automated supports (CMMS) in order to guarantee the efficiency over the entire life of the installation.

3

Water catchment and pre-treatment

At present, the high performance obtained during the pre-treatments allows to execute less restrictive intake systems with more variation in the quality of raw water, but maintaining the guarantee of the water quality required before entering the reverse osmosis membranes.

4

Reverse osmosis membranes

The testing and operation of these critical elements in the production of desalted water imply the establishment of strategies to maximize their useful life, minimizing chemical washes, in order to maintain their permeability, demanded pressure and salt rejection. These three factors guarantee the production and quality of the produced water by optimizing operating costs, being the pre-treatment a key factor. Processes that reduce membrane fouling in open intakes or to maximize plant conversion are necessary.

5

Desalted water-energy nexus and renewable energies use

Energy recovery technologies and membranes evolution have allowed to achieve in recent years to historical minimums of specific energy consumption. However, there are still opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of the process and to bet on renewable energies as an element to reduce the fossil fuel dependence. Knowledge of the desalted water-energy nexus and to being able to count with a technology demonstration area on this issue are key elements to provide solutions to reduce the exploitation costs of desalination.

6

Desalted water quality for multiple uses

Design, test and demonstrate solutions that allow to continuously improve the quality of desalted water to achieve organoleptic criteria and / or for agricultural purposes. A door is opened to explore R&D in terms of compare and optimize the EDR and RO technologies for sewage tertiary treatment plants in order to improve the quality of reclaimed water for agricultural purposes.

7

Brine and circular economy

On the one hand, analysis, feasibility and demonstration of solutions and processes that allow the brine recovery (under circular economy criteria) and, on the other, until the minimum possible discharge, the evolution of brine discharge systems to minimize environmental risks.

8

Desalination and green chemistry

Apply new processes, developments or operation forms that reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals in desalination plants or their replacement by other more sustainable products.

9

Emerging desalination technologies

Testing and demonstration of new desalination technologies, with a view to becoming an alternative on an industrial scale or complement to reverse osmosis: forward osmosis, pervaporation, membrane distillation, capacitive deionization, nanoporous graphene, biomimetic membranes, aquaporins, microbial fuel cells, electrodialysis with bipolar membranes, etc.

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