FAQ 2018-08-28T11:52:27+00:00

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Water is not an exact science, it’s almost an art. Add energy to the equation and two completely different fields of expertise are required to merge, without causing a short-circuit. Without proper pre-filtration, the membranes will quickly have to be replaced. Without the correct energy supply, the motors won’t be able to turn. As a system integrator with patented technology, this is where we thrive, creating tailored solutions to fit your needs. Sharing knowledge is important. We hope you will find your answers here.

Why not use batteries as a buffer instead of the elevated water buffer? 2018-04-12T08:38:47+00:00

We can. Basically it is a question of costs and natural terrain available. Especially for larger capacity systems it becomes cheaper to use the elevated water buffer as the economies of scale are bigger for a water reservoir compared to batteries. When there is no elevation difference available or difficult to utilize, we are able to provide you with the battery alternative as we cover the whole range of desalination driven by renewable energy solutions.

What if I do not have elevation difference available? 2018-04-12T09:35:10+00:00

No problem as we offer a wide range of products, also allowing for solar desalination without the requirement of elevation. Find our full range of solutions here.

Is there only one pipe connecting the elevated water buffer? 2018-02-22T10:04:56+00:00

Yes, usually there is. Because the flow direction changes automatically through gravity when there is no pumping action, there is only one pipe required. This means the same pipe is used for the upward and downward flow of the water. This saves costs and allows this simple and efficient solution to function at its best. The only scenario when another pipe is required is when the water treatment part is located at a very different location from the source water intake, for example on the other side of the hill.

Is there any waste involved? 2018-02-22T10:04:33+00:00

The reverse osmosis process has one feed flow and two outlet flows, containing the fresh water and the salty water, the latter also referred to as the concentrate or brine flow. The most suitable disposal option of this flow will always be studied when installing a desalination plant. To prevent environmental impact and to assure maximum lifetime of the reverse osmosis membranes, we operate on a low recovery ratio, on the contrary to conventional reverse osmosis systems. This means the concentrate or brine flow does not differ much from the original source water salinity. As of such, the impact on the marine life is limited. For the location of the brine or concentrate flow, we will take into account proper mixing with the seawater and any local regulations. By avoiding the prevention of local impact, desalination of seawater is as a sustainable source of fresh water. Judging from a global perspective, seawater can be regarded to have unlimited availability, just as the renewable energy sourced used.

Is the system hurricane resistant? 2018-04-12T12:18:36+00:00

The main components vulnerable to hurricanes are the renewable energy sources. We work together with solar panel frame suppliers, who are  capable of designing and guarantying these frames for hurricane speed wind loads. However, flying debris will remain a risk for damaging the panels during a hurricane. For such an event we have made it possible to remove and safely store the solar panels in a limited amount of time using an easy to use mounting system.

How much water can you provide on a daily basis? 2018-04-12T12:17:51+00:00

The smallest units we provide produce 840 liters or 220 gallons per day. As we provide customized solutions, any water production capacity above this minimum can be offered. Our focus area is systems up to 1,000 m³ (1,000,000 liter) or 26,400 gallons per day. Feel free to request a quote for your personal water capacity requirement here.

How much noise is generated by the solution? 2018-04-12T12:35:58+00:00

This depends on the type of solution chosen.
The solution using gravity has the unique feature that here is almost no noise generated as the desalination equipment doesn’t incorporate a high pressure pump. This system only runs on water pressure provided by the elevated water buffer and the use of our energy recovery devices. These devices are silent except for an occasional switching sound which can be heard when the reciprocating devices switch side. Also, the source water intake pump is silent as it is usually submersed in the beach well and can therefore not be noticed above ground.
The other solutions do use high pressure pumps and will therefore create some noise at the units location. This noise however is limited by including the energy recovery systems, which allow for smaller and thus less noisy motors. The volume (about 70 dB) can be compared to a washing machine during dry spinning.

How does the start-up of the gravity system work? 2018-04-12T12:37:12+00:00

When renewable energy is available, the energy is directly converted into water displacement by the pump. This water is displaced towards the elevated water buffer. Once sufficient water pressure from the elevated buffer is applied to the reverse osmosis membranes, it will automatically start to operate and produce fresh water. The water pressure of the elevated water buffer and the concentrate flow of the reverse osmosis are combined to increase the feed pressure. This is a process which takes around a minute, until the required pressure where the water is desalinated is obtained and continuous and constant operation is realized. No additional equipment or energy source are required for the start-up.

Does the gravity solution use a turbine to generate electricity? 2018-04-12T12:59:30+00:00

No, the only energy conversion takes place at the pump which converts electricity of the renewable energy sources into water displacement. As reverse osmosis is driven by pressurized water, there is no electricity and thus no turbine generator required for the operation. This is advantageous as energy conversion losses and investment costs and operational expenditure are avoided.

Can you work with wave energy? 2018-04-12T13:00:15+00:00

We can. We are in close collaboration with the suppliers of the latest near-shore and off-shore wave technology and are working on a wave project implementation. Depending on the availability of waves on your location, we can offer this option. When the consistency of the waves is sufficient, this could even eliminate the requirement for natural elevation or batteries all together.

Can you retrofit the renewable energy sources to an existing reverse osmosis installation? 2018-04-12T13:03:26+00:00

In most cases, this is not possible. The water treatment part is designed for the specific operation on low pressure only, which basically means that the combination of renewable energy sources, energy recovery and elevated water buffer cannot be coupled to an existing reverse osmosis system. The existing reverse osmosis system usually has a high-pressure pump, works on a different recovery ratio and is controlled using electricity. Most likely, the majority of the existing equipment will have to be replaced. However, the high efficiency of the renewable energy driven solution will make sure costs savings and return-on-investment are realized on short notice. Make sure to drop us a line when you’d like to investigate possible improvement on your fresh water supply and provide us with insights in the current organization.

Can the water plant be integrated into a high rise building? 2018-04-12T13:05:54+00:00

Yes, a self-sustaining building can be created by the integration of the gravity based desalination solution. The basement will then contain the water treatment part, while in or at the top of the building a water buffer is incorporated in the design. Solar or wind energy can be integrated into the building, taking into account the desired esthetics. Contact us for the realization of this unique and progressive approach.

Can the produced water be used for drinking? 2018-04-12T13:19:22+00:00

Besides the removal of the salts, reverse osmosis also removes contaminants, viruses & bacteria. It is based upon a multi-layer membrane by which the water is filtered under pressure, retaining all particles larger than its minuscule holes. To assure constant quality, real-time monitoring is included in the solutions. Reverse osmosis has been used as a drinking water source for decennia and much experience has been gained. For potable water use, post-treatment steps such as remineralization and UV treatment can be included. We will make sure the water quality exceeds your expectations and is conform the local standards and regulations.

Where can the PV panels, wind turbine(s) or wave energy system be installed? 2018-04-09T11:34:31+00:00

From an efficiency perspective it is preferred to locate the PV panels, wind turbine(s) or wave energy installation close to the desalination unit itself for the battery based system, or in case of the gravity system close to the source water intake pump. However it can be the case that it has the customer’s preference to place the PV panels for example on top or near of the elevated water buffer. There are no limitations to the possibilities. Roof mounted or ground fixtures solar panels can both be realized. Basically the options are endless as long as a power cable connection can be made between the renewable energy source and the intake pump.

What kind of guarantees are given? 2018-02-22T09:55:10+00:00

We are responsible to ensure that all health, safety and labor regulations are met and provide you with the desired water production quantity and quality. As we perform custom installations, we will always make sure the system is producing water accordingly and the operational phase is arranged to satisfaction. The exact guarantees depend on the intended water use, the location and the production scale of the system. They will be discussed during the proposal phase, once there is an understanding of all ambitions and requirements for the fresh water supply at the particular location you are involved in.

What happens when the elevated water buffer or batteries are empty? 2018-04-09T11:45:05+00:00

In the extreme event that the elevated water buffer becomes empty due to insufficient solar energy, the low level measurement will stop the system by closing the inlet valve. Once the pump starts displacing water again, the level will increase and the valve is automatically opened , causing the system to resume operation and fresh water production.
In the case of batteries it is normal that water production is stopped at some point during the night due to a low battery state. The system will first perform a fresh flush to help preserve the reverse osmosis membranes during stand still and will start again next morning once the battery level is increasing from sunrise. Alternatively one can connect the system to the grid which will allow for 24/7 operation whenever required.

What happens to my carbon footprint if I decide to install one of your solutions? 2018-04-09T11:51:14+00:00

All fossil fuels traditionally involved with the desalination of water will be avoided, which results in a significant reduction of your carbon footprint. Feel invited to request a free quote and we will specify carbon footprint reduction in your custom proposal.

What are the operational costs? 2018-04-12T07:10:41+00:00

The operational costs of reverse osmosis systems traditionally consists of the electricity costs, membrane replacements, consumables such as pre-filters, spare parts and labor. The electricity costs usually account for more than 50% of the operational costs. In our renewable energy driven solution, these electricity costs are avoided, while at the same time minimizing the other operation costs. The exact operational costs depend on the production size of the system, the source water quality and the source water intake and will be included in your quotation. As we deliver long-term sustainable solutions for fresh water supply, all components have been carefully selected and combined to realize limited maintenance.

What about maintenance? 2018-04-12T07:14:45+00:00

Depending on your preference, location and in-house staff availability, we can either provide the knowledge to operate the system by a professional training, or offer to organize the maintenance services. It is good to understand that most of the components require little maintenance or no maintenance at all. PV panels have a long-life cycle and only need to be rinsed with water once in a while, depending on the location. The pipes and water tanks are robust components with a long lifetime and the pump is chosen to be resistant to the saline water source and maintenance free for years to come. The water treatment consists of the pre-treatment, reverse osmosis and post-treatment. Depending on the source water quality and the purpose of the fresh water, manual maintenance activities are scheduled periodically. These activities are limited to cleaning or replacing the pre-filters and reverse osmosis membranes and after several years the replacement of the wear parts of the energy recovery device and feed pump. We will make sure spare parts are readily available through our spare parts package, close collaboration with local suppliers and by keeping them on stock.

Is there any risk on pipe failures? 2018-04-12T07:26:05+00:00

We will make sure that all pipes will meet the pressure and temperature requirements to make sure no pipe will fail. HDPE pipes are the preferred choice for outdoor sections, which is a strong, yet flexible material which makes it very tough. The pipes are preferably trenched underground, so human activity cannot easily cause pipe failure. In the extreme event that there is a pipe leakage, it will be directly noticeable by the system’s performance and the leak can be traced and repaired.

Is remote monitoring of the system possible? 2018-04-12T07:43:01+00:00

To reduce on-site labor costs and to provide real-time knowledge on the performance, most of our systems have remote monitoring included as standard. This allows for remote access to real-time data such as the water quality and quantity produced, the solar panel performance and the battery or elevated buffer level. Simultaneously it can send warning text messages or emails in case of special events which need attention. The real-time remote monitoring and the trend data it generates allow for faster and more accurate troubleshooting and indicates when to perform preventive maintenance, ensuring high quality product water and preventing downtime.

How much time is required until a system is operational at the location? 2018-04-12T07:55:59+00:00

The required time-span between a signed order and a commissioned system depends on factors such as the location and the size of the water demand. If water is needed quickly we can ship highly efficiency units that work on your energy within a week, producing water within 3 days after the unit arriving on site.
Solar energy powered system are usually ready for shipment within 1-2 months. For transportation over sea and meanwhile allowing time for the preparatory civil works to be performed, we can assume another 3-4 weeks. Then local installation usually takes between 1-3 weeks, resulting in a total duration in the range of 2-3.5 months for solar powered units.
A combination of the two options is also possible, meaning that local energy will be used for quick system deployment and fresh water production and that the solar powered part of the system will be installed in a later phase.

How is the source water intake organized? 2018-04-12T08:09:50+00:00

The source water intake can be realized through a beach well, open ocean intake or borehole. During the design process, we make sure to avoid visual impact and disturbances of the marine environment. How this is arranged precisely is very location and source water dependent.
Brackish water is often found underground. A borehole will be constructed in which a submersible pump is placed or pipe with check valve will be placed allowing suction from a surface pump.
For seawater it highly depends on the shoreline and local regulations. Seawater can either be taken in using a beach well, or by using an open seawater intake. Beach wells have the advantage that the sand acts as a natural pre-filtration for the intake water. An open seawater intake would be the alternative, which is based on a pipe running into the sea. The distance this pipe needs to run into the sea depends on the local conditions.

Does the system require an electricity supply for its operation? 2018-04-12T08:21:14+00:00

No, the solar powered desalination units obtain all their required energy directly from the sun. This means no more (expensive) electricity bills or diesel consumption through a generator. The solution is suitable for stand-alone, off-grid and remote implementation.
We do however offer the option to allow local power (grid, generator or mini-grid) to power the system, which allows for above nominal production capacity whenever needed and can act as a back-up.
The systems offered which require your energy do logically need a local electricity supply.

Are permits required? 2018-02-22T09:49:29+00:00

This depends on the location of the project, the daily production capacity and the end-user. Usually, permits for construction and the source water intake are required. We’ll be happy to assist to find out and proceed with the arrangement of all required documentation.

Why use reverse osmosis? 2018-04-09T09:04:35+00:00

The mature commercial desalination technologies can be divided into two main categories.
1) Thermal distillation in which the saline water is boiled and the vapor condensed as fresh water distillate, which can be performed by Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) and Multi-Effect Distillation (MED)
2) Membrane separation by the technology of Reverse Osmosis (RO) in which a semi-permeable membrane is used to filter out the dissolved solids. Reverse Osmosis is the dominant desalination technology, mainly because it has lower capital costs and lower energy requirements and because of the modularity of the technology.
Of all installed desalination capacity, reverse osmosis accounted for 60% in 2010. Usually thermal distillation only makes sense when there is a source of waste heat (for example when combined with a power plant), which is rarely the case and puts Reverse Osmosis (RO) in favor.

Why use renewable energy coupled to desalination? 2018-02-22T10:08:26+00:00

For regions with high electricity prices, an unreliable electricity network or no access to electricity, it makes sense to use desalination driven by renewable energy from a financial perspective. Besides the cost savings, renewable energy driven desalination also avoids the emissions of greenhouse gasses by avoiding the use of fossil fuels, which enables a sustainable solution. It also provides an independent solution on-site, not relying on rainfall, electricity networks, diesel transportation or water transportation.

Why should reverse osmosis be operated constantly and continuously? 2018-04-09T09:28:01+00:00

Discontinuous operation involves higher risks for bio-fouling, which can cause the reverse osmosis membrane life to significantly decrease. This will lead to higher replacement costs which add to the costs of operations. Also, when requiring 50 m³ or 13200 gallons per day, one would need a 3x larger reverse osmosis equipment when the water is only produced during hours of available sunshine, when assumed as 8 hours per day. When production is 24 hours a day, this means the system makes use of its full water purifying capacity and thereby involves a lower water price.

Why and where is desalination used? 2018-04-09T09:32:27+00:00

The scarcity of fresh water resources and the need for additional water supplies is critical in many arid regions of the world and will be increasingly important in the future. Many (arid) areas simply do not have fresh water resources in the form of surface water such as rivers and lakes. They may have only limited underground water resources, some that are becoming more brackish as extraction of water from the aquifers continues and depletion occurs. Desalination is the common solution to get access to fresh water when there is fresh water scarcity. Seawater desalination is suitable for arid coastal regions that need an additional source to augment fresh water supplies. Brackish desalination allows inland communities to take advantage of water sources that are too salty to treat with conventional methods. There are more than 15,000 desalination facilities worldwide and even more small scale desalination systems in operation. Dry regions with limited fresh water scarcity are dependent on desalination. Examples of regions are the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Middle East, Pacific, America and Australia. By increasing fresh water scarcity, desalination is becoming an addition to the conventional water supply on a global scale.

What is reverse osmosis? 2018-02-22T09:48:10+00:00

Let’s start with osmosis. Osmosis is the process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one. If one would separate fresh water (less concentrated solution) from seawater (more concentrated solution) using a semi-permeable membrane, fresh water would flow through the membrane into the seawater side. Reverse osmosis is the exact opposite, however, due to the natural occurrence of osmosis, reverse osmosis requires pressure to be applied on the more concentrate side (seawater). With sufficient pressure applied freshwater will flow through the membrane from the concentrate side to the fresh water side. This also explains why reverse osmosis is a pressure driven desalination method.

How does reverse osmosis work? 2018-02-22T09:47:49+00:00

The reverse osmosis filtration technology is based on a multi-layer membrane which filters the water under high water pressure. The technology is suitable for seawater and brackish (ground) water and works by applying pressure on the saline water in the semi-permeable membrane. In addition to removing salt the Reverse Osmosis process removes all contaminants, viruses, bacteria, cysts etc. down to a size of 0.0001 micron without requiring chemical treatment. When looking at a reverse osmosis membrane, the salt source water enters into membrane layers. Applied pressure forces the salt source water across membrane layers into the product tube. Concentrated water containing the salts is rejected by the membrane and does not enter the product tube. The concentrated water exits the side of the element opposite of the feed. Product water is collected in the product tube.

Why would you want to couple renewable energy sources to reverse osmosis? 2018-04-09T08:50:16+00:00

There are several reasons to do so. First of all, even the high energy efficient desalination system we provide require a significant amount of energy, which results in high operating costs when high tariff fossil fuel based energy is used to power the desalination units. By using renewable energy to power these systems you generate cheaper energy which can directly be utilized for the water production resulting in a strong decrease of water costs.
Secondly, it allows an off-grid solution which provides independence of the availability of the local electricity network and potential limiting regulations. Power outages will not influence the fresh water production and therefore increases the reliability of the water supply. The water is produced on site, leading to a more decentralized organization which avoids leakage losses and contamination risk during distribution. Off-grid systems usually enjoy none or fewer limitations regarding the implementation of renewable energy sources. End-users connected to electricity grids of limited size can be forced to limit their renewable energy sources set by the electricity provider. By realizing the fresh water supply off-grid, the used renewable energy sources can overcome such limitations.
And finally, if we are to continue our existence in the comfortable environment we are in today, we need to limit CO2 emissions. If not, we only further increase fresh water scarcity due to climate change. To break this cycle we want to ensure water today, without limiting tomorrow, by using renewable energy sources for our fresh water production.

What is the difference between turn-key equipment purchase and a water purchase (water as a service)? 2018-04-09T08:53:55+00:00

A turn-key equipment purchase is a sale agreement in which we design and built the renewable energy driven desalination system and deliver it up to the moment that fresh water is generated. Through training, the tasks concerned with the operations of the system are explained and the responsibility for the operational phase is transferred to the buyer. This simple trade is a financial investment in return for a long-term sustainable water solution and will result in the lowest costs for the produced water. In some cases we are also able to arrange the maintenance service if this is required. The alternative would be ”water as a service”, or also called a water purchase agreement, a contract in which a certain quantity and quality of water are sold for a certain tariff through a long-term agreement. It depends on many factors as the location, size and credibility of the end-user whether it is possible to enter such an agreement. As this model involves project financing, the water tariff will have to include the costs of finance. There is no investment required and direct savings can be realized, if this alternative is possible for your situation. Contact us to find out.

What is our vision on the future positioning of desalination driven by renewable energy? 2018-04-09T08:56:20+00:00

It cannot be denied that fresh water scarcity is a rapidly increasing global challenge, caused by depletion of naturally available fresh water resources. The supply of these fresh water resources is increasingly influenced by climate change, while the demand is increasing by growing population numbers and direct and indirect water consumption by the increase of welfare. While management of these naturally available fresh water resources is important, as are the reduction of the fresh water usage and footprint plus the increase of recycling of waste water, we consider desalination as a partial solution to local fresh water scarcity. By rising electricity rates and water tariffs by the cut of governmental subsidies on a global scale, it simply makes sense from a financial perspective to profit of the decreasing costs and opportunities of renewable energy sources. We do not want to contribute to fossil fuel emissions and thereby to climate change from our company’s philosophy. We are convinced that desalination driven by renewable energy will become the new standard for an affordable, considerate and sustainable long-term fresh water supply solution.

Do you work together with NGO’s, governments, research institutes or individuals? 2018-02-22T09:45:37+00:00

Yes, we do not underestimate the importance of local knowledge and cooperation. We enjoy good working relations with local partners for the planning, preparation and execution of each project. To provide remote villages with potable water, we always work together with the government and preferably a local NGO. Governments usually have the legal responsibility of the fresh water supply and distribution. As fresh water demand and local knowledge are widespread, we are always interested to get in touch with partners or individuals who understand this specific niche market and are able to play an essential role in the realization of projects. As we use state-of-the art proven technology, we are also continuously interested in new developments and research within our scope of activities. Please contact us to explore the possibilities.

Are water kiosks or water shops for developing markets possible? 2018-02-22T09:45:18+00:00

The short answer is yes. Many regions in the world experience severe fresh water shortage. Based on 2010 data from WHO and UNICEF, an estimated 2.1 billion poor people still lack access to safe water at that moment, including 900 million who do not have access to an improved water source, and 1.2 billion who do have access to an improved water source, but where the water is not safe. There are also striking disparities between cities, towns and small villages: over 1.6 billion people without access to safe water today live in rural areas. In urban areas, however, the increase in coverage is barely keeping pace with population growth.Kiosks provide affordable, safe water to millions of poor who live in heavily polluted areas, in a sustainable manner. There are many successful projects, with distinct operating models. The sector is buoyant with innovations, mostly in the field of governance, operations management and marketing. Different stakeholders are involved with the water kiosk concept, for example NGO’s, governmental organizations and local entrepreneurs. To set up a local business model for a water kiosk using our renewable driven desalination solution, contact us.

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