The water treatment group has taken up research projects that address the nexus between the most commonly employed desalination techniques – reverse osmosis (RO), membrane distillation (MD) and multi-effect desalination (MED) – and renewable energy (RE) technologies – wind and solar. Projects on water treatment driven by RE are distributed amongst consulting, research and development.
Being pioneers in RE water treatment, we have participated in numerous EU financed RE desalination research projects. Our collaboration helped to realise important studies in renewable energy and research on autonomous desalination. With increasing expertise in these research topics, we went on to work with IRENA on its SIDS (Small Island Developing States) lighthouse project. Our involvement with IRENA helped to be entrusted with three studies on Renewable desalination, with two of them being on SIDS Cape Verde and Kiribati.
While the group conducts extensive research into the nexus between all forms of RE and desalination techniques when it comes to project development, we have established our particular strength with the nexus between solar energy and membrane desalination techniques. With the technological know-how and expertise on running dynamic desalination systems, we coordinated and lead numerous EU financed projects on autonomous desalination. These projects involved the development of primarily autonomous solar desalination systems - PV-RO and Solar thermal-MED - to help serve populations without access to an electric grid. Pilot plants in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Pantelleria Island (Italy), Gran Canary Island (Spain) and Cyprus have already been realised and are operating with much success. These projects dealt with the development of solar PV in combination with RO modules - PV-RO - or Solar thermal energy in combination with MD modules - Solar thermal MED - to desalinate brackish or seawater. An example is an installation, which is driven by the waste heat of a ship’s diesel. Such a system came back to our technical center for technical inspection after a long journey on a container vessel. On the journey from Rotterdam to Shanghai it was operated and tested with the waste heat of the ship's diesel in order to reduce the energy consumption for drinking water production aboard.