SWRO desalination plant in Jebel Ali is nearly completed

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has completed construction of a 96.50% seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant (SWRO) at the power plant and desalination complex in Jebel Ali. The complex is one of the key pillars to supply Dubai with electricity and water to the highest standards of availability, reliability and quality. DEWA has commissioned an AED 897 million project with a production capacity of 40 million imperial gallons per day (MIGD) of desalinated water to a consortium led by Spanish companies Acciona Agua and Belhasa Six Construct (BeSIX).

H.E. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA, said the project started delivering water to the grid in March 2021. Remaining finishing works are currently being completed and full completion of the project is expected in Q2 2022.

“At DEWA, we continue to implement power and water infrastructure projects to keep pace with Dubai’s continued growth and increasing demand for power and water. DEWA has an installed desalinated water capacity of 490 MIGD and peak water demand will reach 380 MIGD in 2021. DEWA intends to increase SWRO’s production capacity to 303 MIGD by 2030. SWRO desalination plants require less energy than multistage flash system (MSF) plants. Desalinated water production capacity will reach 730 MIGD in 2030. According to DEWA’s strategy, by 2030 100% of desalinated water will be produced with clean energy, using both renewable energy and waste heat. This will enable Dubai to exceed the global targets for clean energy use for desalination. Improving operational efficiency by decoupling desalinated water production from power generation will save around AED 13 billion and reduce 44 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030,” said Al Tayer.

Eng. Nasser Lootah, executive vice president of DEWA’s generation division, said DEWA was introducing smart technologies that enable efficient management and control of desalination plants, thereby improving their availability and reliability. For the first time, DEWA has implemented a dissolved air flotation (DAF) system at SWRO’s ‘K’ station to pre-treat seawater and remove any contaminants before the desalination process. This allows the desalination process to continue in all conditions, especially during red tides when total suspended solids and turbidity levels are high. The plant is also equipped with a double-media filter (DMF), which filters and improves the quality of the seawater supply, thereby increasing the service life and performance of the reverse osmosis membranes. Moreover, the double-pass reverse osmosis system implemented in this project guarantees high quality drinking water.

The SWRO unit is equipped with recuperators with an efficiency of 96%. They use the high pressure of the first-pass brine/reverse osmosis flow and transfer it to part of the feed water flow which enters the first-pass inlet. This significantly reduces the energy consumption of the high-pressure pump, increasing the efficiency of the desalination process.

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