16 | 08 | 2018

CONNECTING ISLAND INNOVATIONS

Water: Brine V+1, transforming the desalination industry in a greener business

 


General information:

Island (Region, Province, Country):
Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain

Population:
844.000

Budget / cost of the project:
1,250,000 euros

Project objectives:

Increase the sustainability and environmental protection of small islands by eliminating the impact of desalination plants brine discharges on marine ecosystems.

Project description of activities and specific interventions:

Brine disposal locally impact benthic fauna and flora communities, if poorly diluted discharge is allowed to flow across the marine bottom.
The Venturi Project (2009-12), funded by the Spanish Environmental Ministry (MAPAMA) and coordinated by the Technological Institute of the Canary Islands (ITC) demonstrated the technical viability of venturi diffusers in the dilution process of desalination plants brine discharges with the aim of reducing its environmental impact in marine ecosystems.
ECOS, an environmental impact consultancy agency focused in the marine sector, which was one of the main participants of the overall project, conducted the installation of two prototypes of the diffusers in 2012 and 2013 on desalination plants located in Gran Canaria, Spain (average brine effluent flow 1.062 m3/h and 583 m3/h, respectively).
Brine dilution efficiency was improved (131% higher than conventional diffusers) resulting in a minimization of the 99% environmental impact associated to the brine and the recovery of fast growing colonizing benthic communities (e.g. Caulerpa prolifera) which was observed after the installation of the device.
Benthic ecosystems at littoral zones as coral reefs, seagrasses meadows and mangroves forests are very sensitivity to changes in the water quality and due to their location are highly susceptible to being affected by brine discharge.
After the Venturi Project, ECOS has developed the Brine V+1, a product which higher efficiency and lower manufacturing costs than the initial prototypes. During 2017 a feasibility study and a market approach were carried out during the European Union Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 1, indicated a few necessary technological improvements before launching it to the international markets.
Those improvements have been developed. ECOS is currently undertaking negotiations with potential partners to test the technology in real conditions thought pilot projects in other islands in the Mediterranean (Italy and Cape Verde) as well as in the Caribbean and Asia Pacific.
This promising technology has the potential to represent a technological leap in tackling one of the most robust environmental barriers for the developing of the desalination industry.

Public outreach, education and awareness efforts and results:

There has been much research and dissemination on the environmental impacts associated with the disposal of brine concentrate, which range in geographic scale from local to regional to global.
The primary environmental impact include increases in the salinity of receiving water bodies (particularly restricted circulation bodies), local impacts of hypersaline brines on marine benthic communities at and near the point of discharge, discharge of chemicals used for pretreatment and membrane cleaning and metals from corrosion (Cu, Fe, Ni, Mo, Cr), impacts to aquifers from leaks from brine pipes, temporary damage during construction and maintenance and permanent damage from emplacement of infrastructure (pads, pipelines, etc.) ECOS has participated in the development of scientific articles which currently are baseline publications in the field.
Nevertheless, there are still a large number of new projects that are being evaluated based on old or misleading assumptions. Many of them located in coastal regions that have not needed much desalination in the past, such as California and Texas in the United States, or parts of Europe and Southeast Asia.
On these regions desalination is being projected to become an integral part of future water supplies, and the need of higher quality and more up to date scientific information is required to assess the projects’ environmental impacts.
Often the environmental government bodies have a lack of awareness or determination on this field, so in many countries the policies restrictiveness is still very lax.
During 2017 and 2018 we have worked on the following different strategies to increase the environmental awareness of this problem and to push the government agencies to act upon it:
o On-site presentations to Government agencies (California, USA and Abu Dhabi, UAE).
o Exploring partnership agreements with renewable energy desalination companies and with technical consultancy agencies that that assist and advise local governments on the development of national desalination plans and projects.
o We have designed a dissemination activities plan to exploit the data that will be generated during the validation and monitoring of the Brine V+1 on the upcoming pilot projects.

Economic value added and how calculated:

Environmental policies regarding brine dilution requirements are increasingly restrictive worldwide. Nevertheless there are still major differences among countries.
In Europe, the direct disposal of brines from desalination plants into water bodies is no longer allowed due to its conflicts with the objectives of the Blue Growth Strategy (COM(2012)494) and both, the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC).
Thus, the dispersion and dilution of the brine is currently a top concern for the companies that build and operate desalination plants. New solutions have emerged in the last decade, in order to meet the new requirements.
Currently, the most used method of brine disposal is a discharge pipe with either multiport or rosette diffusers. Diffusers are series of nozzles that increase the mixing of concentrate within the seawater column and prevent accumulation on the seafloor. Taking into account that a kilometer of an underwater pipe costs around 1.5-2 M€, this is an expensive alternative.
Recently, the updated guidelines on the management of desalination activities for the Mediterranean (UNEP(DEPI)/MED WG.439/7) directly address the desalinations plants impact on water quality deterioration and biological effects due to brine discharges  and recommends the improvement of diffuser technology to increase the dilution processes during the brine discharge at sea (note 22.d.) The main economic value added by the Brine V+1 comes from its higher dilution capacity, which enables the length of the underwater pipes to be significantly reduced.
Other economic impacts will be achieved indirectly through the protection of benthic ecosystems which protect coastal regions and increase their resilience against the impacts of waves and storms and are fundamental for the balance of marine biodiversity, and consequently a key element for the protection of economic activities like fishing and tourism. Seagrasses meadows are also responsible of the greater percentage of the world CO2 absorption.
The relevance of benthic communities in islands is higher, due to its greater exposure to climate change and the importance of fishing and tourism to sustain their economies.

Ecological and social project outcomes:

Globally, the growing scarcity of freshwater and the climate change (which makes rainfall less predictable and droughts more common) place desalination as a key technology in filling the gap between supply and demand of freshwater.
Brine discharge management is considered as one of the main issues that the industry is facing, being a real bottleneck to speed its growth.
By launching to the international market a cost-effective solution that eliminates the environmental impact of the brine, ECOS is promoting the availability of water resources from desalination plants.
The brine effluent is not merely concentrated salts, as they also include a variety of chemicals that come from the reverse osmosis or distillation processes, such as antiscalants and antifouling, including chlorine and other disinfection by-products that may be toxic, as well as chemicals present in the intake water.
These discharges forms a very dense hypersaline plume (heavier than normal seawater) that spreads over large areas affecting marine ecosystems, especially to seagrass meadows which are one of the most ecologically important ecosystems in islands.
Brine can be diluted by co-discharging it with power plant cooling water, seawater or municipal wastewaters to reduce its salinity before it is returned back to the sea. Currently, the most commonly employed subsea modern outfall design is a discharge pipe with diffusers.
The Brine V+1 diffuser has an estimated the dilution capacity 2,3 times higher than conventional diffusers and it is easily installable in both new and existing submarine outfalls.
ECOS is also undertaking considerable research for further developments of the device and for the improvements of the services offered to the industry which will lead to optimal brine management, including:
o Brine plumes modeling techniques sophistication, allowing better projections to locate the discharge point where a maximum degree of mixing will occur.
o Using cutting-edge oceanographic techniques for a better acquisition of detailed monitoring data on active plumes to assess changes in brine concentration.

 

 

 

 

ShareEmail this to someonePrint this pageShare on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

This information notice is provided in accordance with Article 13 of Italian Legislative Decree no. 196 of 2003, Code in relation to Personal Data Protection

This information notice is limited to browsing on the aforementioned websites and does not apply to websites external even if consulted by way of links contained on the websites and themed websites. This information notice describes the methods of managing the websites above  in relation to the processing of personal data of users who consult them, choose to register and/or use the online services.

Processing Controller Registration on the websites and subscription of the services leads to the processing of personal data relating to individuals or entities.
Processing Managers
The processing in relation to the portal services Mainly takes place at the above websites . It is performed by specially appointed personnel Identified on the basis of the purposes of the requested and subscribed services .
Types of Data Processed
Consultation of websites: Browsing Data
The computer systems and application processes involved in the operation of the above websites acquire, during the course of their normal operation, some data whose transmission is implicit in the use of Internet communication protocols.
That information is used to obtain statistical information on the use of the portal and to check its correct functioning and is not associated with identified users; however, by its nature and by association with data held by third parties, it could allow for the identification of the interested parties. This category includes, for example, the IP address of the system used to connect to the portal.
This data is removed from the systems after the preparation of the statistics and is stored offline exclusively to ascertain liability in the case of computer crimes and it may only be consulted upon request by the judicial authority.
Data provided voluntarily by the user when using the online services In order to use the online services that involve authentication, registration or sending of e-mails, personal data provided freely by users is used according to different methods:

Registration

Individuals or entities external may register on the websites in order to request particular online services. When registering to the portal, some personal data is requested that is needed to identify the registered individual. When subscribing for the services, additional data may be requested, including sensitive data, depending on the specific chosen service. The processing purposes differ depending upon the service and are described in detail in the respective subscription pages.

Sending of e-mails to addresses identified on the websites The optional, explicit and voluntary sending of electronic mail to the addresses identified on the website involves the subsequent acquisition of the sender’s address, required to respond to the requests, along with any personal data included in the communication.

Processing Methods
The personal data is processed using automated tools for the time strictly necessary to achieve the purposes for which it was collected. Specific security measures are applied in order to prevent the loss of the data, its unlawful or incorrect use and any unauthorised accesses.

Session cookies (essential for using the online services and accessing reserved areas of the websites)
The website uses http session cookies to manage the authentication of online services and reserved areas. The use of session cookies (which are not stored permanently on the user's computer and are removed when the browser is closed) is strictly limited to the transmission of session identifiers (constituted by random numbers generated by the server) required to allow safe and efficient browsing of the website. By disabling these cookies, online services cannot be used.

Tracking cookies Tracking cookies can be disabled without any effect on browsing of the portal: to disable them, please see the next section. The University uses the Google Analytics services of the company Google, Inc. (hereafter "Google") to generate statistics on use of the web portal; Google Analytics uses cookies (not of third parties) which store personal data. The information identifiable from the cookies on use of the website by the user (including IP addresses) is transmitted from the user's browser to Google, based at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, United States, and stored on the server of that company. In accordance with the terms of the service in place, Google uses this information, in the capacity of autonomous data processor, for the purpose of tracking and examining use of the website, compiling reports on website activity to be used by the operators of that website and to provide other services relating to website activity, the connection method (mobile, PC, browser used, etc.) and the methods of searching and accessing the pages of the portal. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where this is required by law or where those third parties process the aforementioned information on Google's behalf. Google will not associate the IP addresses with any other data possessed by Google. In order to read the privacy information notice of the company Google, relating to the Google Analytics service. To find out more about Google's privacy policy. By using the above website, you consent to the processing of your data by Google using the methods and for the purposes identified above. Tracking cookies:

Name

Origin

Function

Expiration

_ga

Google

Statistics on use of the web portal

24 months (2 year)

_gat

Google

Statistics on use of the web portal

10 minutes



How to disable cookies (opt-out)


It is possible to withhold consent to the use of cookies by selecting the appropriate setting on your browser: unauthenticated browsing on the unimi portal will in any case be available in all its functions. We set out below the links which explain how to disable cookies on the most popular browsers (for other browsers that may be used, we suggest you seek this option from the software help menu, which can usually be accessed by pressing the F1 key:

Alternatively, it is possible only to disable the Google Analytics cookies, using the additional opt-out component provided by Google for the main browsers. In this way, it will also be possible to use the unimi online services.





Close