Low-cost low-enthalpy geothermal heat for freshwater production: Innovative applications using thermal desalination processes

J. Bundschuh, N. Ghaffour, H. Mahmoudi, M. Goosen, S. Mushtaq, J. Hoinkis
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 43, 196-206, (2014)

Low-cost low-enthalpy geothermal heat for freshwater production: Innovative applications using thermal desalination processes

Keywords

Freshwater production, Geothermal water desalination/treatment, Adapting conventional technologies, Geothermal powered thermal desalination, Membrane distillation 

Abstract

​The study is dedicated to exploring different types of low-cost low-enthalpy geothermal and their potential integration with conventional thermal-based water desalination and treatment technologies to deliver energy efficient, environmentally friendly solutions for water desalination and treatment, addressing global water crises. Our in-depth investigation through reviews of various low-enthalpy geothermal and conventional thermal-based technologies suggest that the geothermal option is superior to the solar option if low-cost geothermal heat is available because it provides a constant heat source in contrast to solar. Importantly, the stable heat source further allows up-scaling (>1000 m3/day), which is not currently possible with solar. Solar-geothermal hybrid constellations may also be suitable in areas where both sources are available. The review also discovers that the innovative Membrane distillation (MD) process is very promising as it can be used for many different water compositions, salinity and temperature ranges. Either the geothermal water itself can be desalinated/treated or the geothermal heat can be used to heat feed water from other sources using heat exchangers. However, there are only few economic analyses for large-scale MD units and these are based on theoretical models using often uncertain assumptions resulting in a large variety of results.

Code

DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2014.10.102

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