LIFE Project Cover Photo

DEMONSTRATION OF AN ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY DESALINATION SYSTEM CONCEPT: TRANSFORMING SEAWATER INTO VALUABLE RESOURCES

Reference: LIFE16 ENV/ES/000223 | Acronym: LIFE DREAMER

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Water scarcity is one of the biggest social and environmental challenges of our age. The impacts of climate change and growth in water demand are exacerbating the pressure on the Earth’s limited water resources.

Indeed, given this global and European situation of ever-increasing pressure on freshwater resources and subsequent water stress, alternative water sources such as seawater desalination have emerged. Due to its weather independency, desalination of seawater could be an extremely important alternative source of drinking water if costs and environmental impacts can be reduced.


OBJECTIVES

The main objective of LIFE DREAMER was to demonstrate a highly resource-efficient desalination system using reverse osmosis. The new technology would be installed on a pilot line at the La Tordera seawater desalination plant in Girona, Spain. It was designed to reduce the costs and environmental impact of desalination.

Specifically, the project would:

  • Increase water conversion through treatment of waste and concentrated brine streams;
  • Reduce energy consumption per unit of water;
  • Re-use the brine and precipitated calcium and magnesium salts generated during the desalination process; and Recover commercially-valuable materials such as phosphates.

This project will directly contribute to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and could have high replicability potential, especially in the Mediterranean basin.


 


RESULTS

The LIFE DREAMER project developed and demonstrated on a pilot scale over a two-year period a highly resource-efficient desalination concept whereby subtracted seawater is converted into freshwater and valuable products that can be used internally or valorised in other industries. The process has a lower chemical and energy consumption level than the current conventional ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis methodology. The pilot plant, which was representative of full-scale conditions, was installed initially in La Tordera (Girona, Spain) and afterwards in San Pedro del Pinatar II seawater desalination plant in Murcia, Spain.

 

Specific results included:

  • Up to 80-85% water recovery rate, compared to 45-50% with conventional desalination systems;
  • Up to 65-70% reduction in the effluents’ discharge by RO-based desalination systems;
  • Significant reduction in the internal use of chemicals used for desalination, due to the:
    • Obtention of a calcium and magnesium rich stream from the brine, which could be used for remineralisation purposes.
    • Removal, to up to 70%, of the phosphorous contained in the influent seawater, which is a limiting element for the growth of biofilm forming bacteria. This turns into a reduction of biocides and cleaning agents needed for cleaning the reverse osmosis membranes.   
    • 11% reduction of energy consumption (and associated greenhouse gas emissions) thanks to the increased water recovery and the optimised operation of the treatment and recovery systems. 

The project’s technology was awarded the Innovation for Desalination award at WEX Global 2020. This award is given to the desalination project that has made the greatest overall contribution to the field. By significantly reducing energy consumption, the project moreover significantly reduced the cost of seawater desalination while demonstrating the possibility to increase the sustainability of desalination processes. The project will play a key role in shaping the future of desalination, in line with the commitment to make the process more sustainable.

 

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report  (see "Read more" section).

 

 

ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


Reference: LIFE16 ENV/ES/000223
Acronym: LIFE DREAMER
Start Date: 01/09/2017
End Date: 31/12/2020
Total Budget: 1,626,410 €
EU Contribution: 975,845 €
Project Location:

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: ACCIONA AGUA, S.A.U.
Legal Status: PCO
Address: Avda. de Europa, 22., 28108, Alcobendas Madrid, España
Contact Person: Juan Barón Segarra
Email: juan.baron.segarra@acciona.com
Tel: 34933351500
Website: http://www.acciona-agua.com


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • Water management and supply
  • Water scarcity and drought

KEYWORDS

  • water supply
  • reverse osmosis
  • water shortage

TARGET EU LEGISLATION

  • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)

BENEFICIARIES

Name Type
ACCIONA AGUA, S.A.U. Coordinator
Water, Environment and Business for Development S.L., Spain Participant
AQUASTILL B.V., The Netherlands Participant

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