Chapter 2 Overview of Desalination History (Past) The GCC countries are suffering from scarcity of freshwater.
The majority of GCC land is made up of deserts, with no rivers, lakesand the rarely irregular rainfall. Under these difficult conditions, the GCCcountries relied on underground water as the primary source of drinking water.Therefore, it is observed that the fast population and agricultural growth wereaffected the amount of water in the region.
With the discovery of Oil in themiddle of 20th century, GCC countries experienced an economical, industrial andagricultural development along with population growth which resulted into anevolution in the life style, enhancement in the living standard and easy accessto drinking water due to the construction of water transmission pipelines anddistribution networks. Increasing demand on underground water resulted inlowering the levels of underground water with deteriorated quality. The processof desalinating salt water to produce drinking water was not new to humansocieties.
There are evidences of earlier human successful attempts in thisfield. In 1907, The first desalination uses to produce drinking water in theArabian Gulf countries was in the city of Jeddah. A Dutch company installed twodistilleries called “Kendassa”. While in 1928, King Abdulaziz Al Saud orderedto replace them by two new units and works using submerged tube process andthey had a total capacity of 135 m3 /day (297001 gallon/day) installed by theScottish company Weir Westgarth as shown in Figure 2 12. In 1953, Kuwait andQatar built a number of units that work using the submerged tubes method. But,the low productivity lead to frequent outages as well as high steam consumptionand low performance ratio which resulted in an increasing of costs whichreduced the uses of this method.
Nevertheless, all units installed of this typein KSA, Qatar and Kuwait were phased out. While in 1957, Kuwait built”Alshuwaikh” desalination plant and works on the concept of once though FlashEvaporation process. These units were the largest Flash Evaporation units forwater desalination in the world back then 13.
In 1960, GCC is proud of beingthe first to test and implement one of the most important processes for waterdesalination globally which is Multi Stage Flash Evaporation (MSF). That was inKuwait where two units were built with a capacity of 1 MIGD (4545.5 m3/day) byThe Scottish company Weir Westgarth according to the design innovated by theScottish Professor Robert Silver as shown in Figure 3 14.In 1967, Saudi Arabia had begun to build two plants, Al Wajhand Dhaba, on the western coast using once through MSF process and had acapacity of 43560 gallon/day (198 m3/ day). After that, further desalinationprojects depending on this process were built in Saudi Arabia in differentcities as Jeddah, Al Khafji and Al Jubail such as Shuaiba.
However, RO wasintroduced in 1984 in the Kingdom of Bahrain when the first plant “Ras AbuJarjur” was built to desalinate salty well water 13. Moreover, Most of the ROunits in the GCC countries are located in UAE, KSA and Sultanate of Oman. Theyhave varied production capacities and used to desalinate underground saltywater and sea water which was found to be the best option to provide drinkingwater to small and remote villages.Using MED and VC process were not as common as the otherthermal processes such as MSF. However, in 1977, UAE was the first country tointroduce MED desalination to GCC countries in Jazirat Abu Mousa Plant with acapacity of 20020 gallon/day (91 m3/day) 14. KSA used the same technique withreheating process in fast Amlaj Units in 1981 where two units were installedwith a total capacity of 181500 gallon/day (825 m3/day) which then were shiftedto Al Wajh city in 1986 14.
As for the other process related to membranewater desalination which is Electrodialysis (ED), the only trial was inSultanate of Oman in Lima Plant which was built in 1983 and had a capacity of22000 gallon/day (100 m3/day) 14. In details, the following Table.1 shows thetypes of desalination techniques used in each country of GCC with date of use.Chapter 3 Water Desalination Technologies This chapter discuss water desalination technologies used toproduce desalinated water in GCC countries’ plants and give a brief of eachtype in terms on working principles as well as their production. There are manywater desalination technologies used in GCC and they are divided into two categories,the first category is based on thermal processes while the second category isbased on membranes processes. 3.1 Thermal Processes All thermal desalinationtechnologies apply distillation, heating the water, to produce water vapor,which is then condensed into a low-salinity water 18.
Since the energy forwater evaporation is practically not dependent on the source water salinityconcentration, thermal evaporation is very suitable for desalination ofhigh-salinity waters and brine. This is one of the reasons that thermaldesalination has been widely adopted by GCC countries. The common thermalprocesses that used in GCC are discussed below; 3.
1.1 Multi- Stage Flush (MSF)MSF process depends on heating sea water up to a certain temperature between 90oC and 120o C in brine heaters. Then the water is pumped to a three series of avacuum chambers. While the water enters each chamber, it flashes and producewater vapor at entering temperature of each chamber. After that, the risingwater vapor from the chambers gets condensed on outer surface of feed watertube producing desalinated water and also work as a preheater to the feed waterbefore entering the brine heater again which will reduce the energy requiredfor heating as shown in Figure 4.3.1.
2 Multi-Effect Distillation (MED) MED is made of multiple effect chambers using the principleof reducing the vacuum in different chambers which enables the sea water toboil repeatedly without adding more heat after the first effect chamber.