RO plant will use membranes with 16-in diameter, double global standard
Plant provides alternative water supply to frequently-polluted Nakdong River
South Korea’s Busan, a city of almost four million, is building a seawater reverse osmosis (RO) plant that will break new ground in unit train and membrane size. The plant, which will be ready in 2013, will use membranes with a 16-inch diameter (40.64 cm) – double the current global standard.
The new plant will be able to produce 45 million litres daily to serve 50,000 households. The average water use per person per day in Busan is 301 litres.
Executive director of the Centre for Seawater Desalination Plant in South Korea, Professor In Soo Kim, says the project will allow them to do research and development, put the technology to work and then export the core technologies.
“The greatest benefit will be the outcomes of the research and development that can be used in regions of the world where there are long-term water shortages, especially with the uncertainties presented by climate change. The project is aimed at exploring overseas markets by developing integral and strategic technologies.”
Seawater RO desalination requires many steps such as intake, pre-treatment, the reverse osmosis process and post-treatment processing.
Young-Whan Kim, director-general for Busan City’s environment and green zone bureau, says Busan folk have a “deep distrust” of the Nakdong River water intake, which supplies 94% of the city’s drinking water. He says: “It is necessary for Busan City to find an alternative source of supply that can replace the Nakdong River, where there were frequent cases of water pollution.”
He says there has been no back-up water source in the event of river pollution. “The new desalination plant, therefore, promises to diversify the sources of water resources and produce high-quality tap water for Busan.”
Busan is playing host to the International Water Association’s World Water Congress and Exhibition in September 2012.
The reverse osmosis (RO) desalination process consists of three important parts: high-pressure (HP) pumps, energy recovery devices (ERD) and reverse osmosis (RO) banks. A unit train refers to the minimum RO process made up of a HP pump, an ERD and an RO bank.
Artist impression of the US$87 million seawater RO desalination plant in Busan that will be ready in 2013 (photo credit: Centre for Seawater Desalination Plant)
Plant cost: About 100 billion won (about US$87 million)
Companies in the programme: There are 21 in all. The major ones are Doosan Heavy Industry, Woongjin Chemical Co Ltd, Hyosung Goodsprings and Kolon.
• Woongjin Chemical Co Ltd: Supplier of reverse osmosis (RO) membrane; it developed the 16-inch RO membrane in the SeaHERO R&D programme
• Doosan Heavy Industry: Engineering, procurement, construction (EPC)
• Hyosung Goodsprings: High-pressure (HP) pump and energy recovery devices (ERD)
• Kolon: Microfiltration (MF) process for pre-treatment
Sources: researchsea.com, additional research