(514e) A Novel Process for Concurrent Desalination and Boron Removal | AIChE

(514e) A Novel Process for Concurrent Desalination and Boron Removal


Krantz, W. B. - Presenter, University of Colorado
Halitoglu-Velioglu, S., Istanbul Technical University
Kürklü, S., Istanbul Technical University
Ahunbay, M. G., Istanbul Technical University
Tantekin-Ersolmaz, S. B., Istanbul Technical University

A Novel Process for Concurrent Desalination and Boron Removal

Süer Kürklü1,
Sadiye Velioglu1,2, M. Göktug Ahunbay1, S. Birgül
Tantekin-Ersolmaz1, William B. Krantz3,4

of Chemical Engineering, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey

of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University,

of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado, U.S.A.

Membrane Technology Center, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Desalination of saline
water is a critical technology for supplying the water needed for the rapidly increasing
world population and to sustain economic development, particularly in the
agricultural industry. The boron content of seawater averages 4.6 ppm and is as
high as 9.6 ppm in the Eastern Mediterranean. A small amount of boron is
required for all plants; however, it affects the yield and can become toxic to
plants at levels ranging between 0.5 and 20 ppm. The World Health Organization (WHO)
recommends that the boron concentration in drinking water and irrigation water be
0.5 ppm or less. Since boron is present in water as boric acid, its concentration
cannot be reduced adequately by single-stage reverse osmosis (SSRO) using
commercially available reverse osmosis (RO) membranes. This can be done using commercially
available RO membranes by using two or more SSRO stages in series at the cost
of reduced water recovery. Increased water recovery is possible by raising the
pH that causes boric acid to dissociate into hydrated borate ions for which commercially
available RO membranes have a good rejection. However, this requires adding chemicals
and an additional process step to reduce the pH again. Desalination followed by
ion exchange or dialysis can also reduce the boron concentration at the cost of
increased process complexity. None of these processes can achieve desalination
and boron removal with a high water recovery using just commercially available membranes.

This paper describes the Concurrent
Desalination and Boron Removal (CDBR) process for water desalination and
reduction of the boron concentration to 0.5 ppm or less using commercially
available membranes.  The saline water is
fed to one or more SSRO stages in series whose retentate is fed to a
countercurrent membrane cascade with recycle (CMCR) and whose permeate is fed
to a low pressure membrane stage (LPMS) for further boron removal. The permeate
from the LPMS is blended with that from the CMCR to obtain the desired product
water. This process configuration employs countercurrent flow of the retentate
and permeate, permeate recycle, and retentate recycle in the CMCR to reduce the
required osmotic pressure differential (OPD) significantly. This reduces the
pumping, maintenance, pretreatment and brine disposal costs, and can provide a
highly concentrated brine that can be used as the draw solution for
Pressure-Retarded Osmosis (PRO) to harvest the osmotic potential energy in the

The performance metrics
for this novel CDBR process are compared with those for using two SSRO stages
in series for CDBR. The assumptions are a seawater feed containing 35,000 ppm
salt and 10 ppm boron producing water containing 0.5 ppm boron and less than
100 ppm salt and, pump and energy recovery device (ERD) efficiencies of 85% and
90%, respectively. For these conditions the CDBR process employing commercially
available RO membranes with a 90% boron rejection can reduce the OPD relative
to two SSRO stages in series by 35% at a water recovery of 55% and 37% at a
recovery of 75%, and can reduce the net specific energy consumption (SECnet)
by 0.87% at 55% recovery and 39% at 75% recovery.

(This work is supported
by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) through
Project No. 114Y165.)


This paper has an Extended Abstract file available; you must purchase the conference proceedings to access it.


Do you already own this?



AIChE Pro Members $150.00
AIChE Graduate Student Members Free
AIChE Undergraduate Student Members Free
AIChE Explorer Members $225.00
Non-Members $225.00