Technology development and application of solar energy in desalination: MEDRC contribution
KAUST DepartmentWater Desalination and Reuse Research Center (WDRC)
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AbstractDesalination has become one of the sources for water supply in several countries especially in the Middle East and North Africa region. There is a great potential to develop solar desalination technologies especially in this region where solar source is abundantly available. The success in implementing solar technologies in desalination at a commercial scale depends on the improvements to convert solar energy into electrical and/or thermal energies economically as desalination processes need these types of energies. Since desalination is energy intensive, the wider use of solar technologies in desalination will eventually increase the demand on these technologies, making it possible to go for mass production of photovoltaic (PV) cells, collectors and solar thermal power plants. This would ultimately lead to the reduction in the costs of these technologies. The energy consumed by desalination processes has been significantly reduced in the last decade meaning that, if solar technologies are to be used, less PV modules and area for collectors would be needed. The main aspects to be addressed to make solar desalination a viable option in remote location applications is to develop new materials or improve existing solar collectors and find the best combinations to couple the different desalination processes with appropriate solar collector. In the objective to promote solar desalination in MENA, the Middle East Desalination Research Center has concentrated on various aspects of solar desalination in the last twelve years by sponsoring 17 research projects on different technologies and Software packages development for coupling desalination and renewable energy systems to address the limitations of solar desalination and develop new desalination technologies and hybrid systems suitable for remote areas. A brief description of some of these projects is highlighted in this paper. The full details of all these projects are available the Centers website. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.