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Renewable seawater desalination plant in Hawaii inaugurated

  • Renewable seawater desalination plant in Hawaii inaugurated

About the entity

Trevi Systems
Trevi's Forward Osmosis technologies are the first commercially viable desalination and brine concentration systems which excel when combined with solar-thermal or waste heat sources like geothermal heat, solar ponds, or power plants.

Trevi Systems, a leader in forward osmosis technology, celebrates the successful completion and operation of its groundbreaking 500m3/day renewable seawater desalination plant at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA) site. This remarkable project, made possible by a $4 million US Department of Energy grant awarded to NELHA in 2022 with Trevi as the technology provider, marks a pivotal moment in renewable desalination.

The initiative, aimed at demonstrating the feasibility and efficacy of forward osmosis technology in seawater desalination for agricultural applications, surpassed expectations during its operation from June 2022 to September 2023. By harnessing solar power, Trevi's forward osmosis system accomplished a first in renewable desalination, producing potable water without reliance on an external energy grid for support.

"This project represents a significant advancement for forward osmosis as a sustainable desalination technology," remarked John Webley, CEO at Trevi Systems. "The successful operation of our 4th generation forward osmosis technology in conjunction with low-temperature CSP arrays highlights the viability of renewable energy for forward osmosis technology in producing potable water from seawater. Essentially, our FO plant produces carbon-free desalinated seawater with no GHG impact."

Key achievements of the project include:

  • The plant's performance metrics were outstanding, with a recovery rate exceeding 65% and thermal energy consumption below 30kWh/m3, surpassing commercial RO systems' capabilities.
  • Competitive Capital Costs: Demonstrated capital costs competitive with existing desalination technologies like Reverse Osmosis (RO).
  • Utilizing Low-Grade Thermal Resources: Showcased coupling to low-grade thermal resources, maximizing the use of 'waste heat.'
  • Reduced Energy Consumption: Demonstrated lower energy consumption compared to existing thermal technologies, setting a new benchmark in thermal desalination technology.
  • Advancements in FO Component Technology: Highlighted advancements in hot nano-filtration, polymeric heat exchangers, draw solutions optimization, and improved FO membranes.

These combined advancements resulted in achieving a Levelized Cost of Water (LCOW), which is highly dependent on the cost of electricity, competitive with existing carbon-intensive technologies such as reverse osmosis, paving the way for a low carbon desalination future.

The success of this plant, coupled with the operation of a smaller similar renewable forward osmosis desalination plant in Cyprus which produces potable water, has garnered significant attention from the global community. A large system order from Kuwait is close to being signed, initiating the commercialization drive for this transformative technology.

Trevi Systems is committed to further expanding the NELHA plant's capabilities, with plans to increase capacity to over 6000m3/day at the same site and showcasing the potential for zero liquid discharge and brine concentration for mineral recovery.

Trevi Systems would like to acknowledge the contributions of our partners, Nippon Shokubai Co. Ltd. and Toyobo MC Corporation who supplied the draw solution and membranes for our forward osmosis system. The execution of this project during the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and resilience in the face of adversity.

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