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Desalination Plant Saves $12M Per Year with Energy Recovery

Linda Hardesty

Energy Recovery chartThe largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere is being built north of San Diego, and the $1 billion plant will use technology from Energy Recovery to help it reach its carbon neutral goals and reduce its energy costs.

The future operator of the Carlsbad Desalination Project, IDE, awarded Energy Recovery a contract for its energy recovery device technology, which will save an estimated 116 million kWh of energy per year, equating to about $12 million per year.

Energy Recovery’s PX Pressure Exchanger devices work by capturing hydraulic energy from the high-pressure reject stream of the seawater reverse-osmosis plant and transferring this energy to low-pressure feed water with an efficiency of over 98 percent. Because the PX device itself consumes no electrical power and recycles otherwise lost energy in the form of pressure, the overall energy consumption of the process is drastically reduced.

As part of the agreement, Energy Recovery will provide 144 of its PX Pressure Exchanger Q300 units to the plant.

When the Carlsbad plant comes online in 2016, it will provide the region with 50 million gallons of water per day to serve 112,000 households.

It’s been a long journey for the Carlsbad Desalination Project as it faced 14 legal challenges over its environmental impact, according to Forbes. But now that it’s overcome challenges such as whether its operation would harm the ocean or marine animals, the completion of the plant may signal the advent of more desalination projects in the US. According to Global Water Intelligence, there are currently more than 12 desalination projects in various stages of planning in California and more that 40 medium and large projects on the drawing board across the US.



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