Environmental Impact and Solutions for Desalination Plant Discharge into Shallow Coastal Regions

General Information


Environmental Impact and Solutions for Desalination Plant Discharge into Shallow Coastal Regions

Environmental Technology


The project deals with the development, validation, and application of mathematical models based on the finite-volume method, capable of determining detailed velocity, salinity, and temperature distributions in shallow coastal waters resulting from desalination/power plant effluent discharges.

Two sets of objectives are planned which are classified under strategic and technical objectives. These objectives directly address the coastal water environment and its protection as well as the energy consumption and operating thermal efficiency of desalination/power plants. Strategic Objectives: These are current and long-term objectives of strategic nature planned to be achieved in the present project and in future extensions of it. These strategic objectives are: 1. Assess environmental impact of desalination/power plant discharge of concentrated and heated brine into coastal waters as well as impact on energy consumption and efficiency of plant. 2. Investigate means of alleviating such adverse environmental and energy impacts. 3. Apply computer model to actual desalination/power plant discharge situations. 4. Undergraduate projects as well as M.Sc. theses would be offered to students to work on various aspects related to this project. The project will, therefore, enhance teaching and train young engineers in this important environmental and engineering area. 5. The project relies heavily on Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analyses and, hence, it would promote and enhance future CFD based-research in the department. This is needed since CFD has already been established as an integrated part of the undergraduate as well as graduate curricula in many universities worldwide. In addition, CFD is now commonly used as a design and development tool in many industries and it is time to prepare our graduates for that. Technical Objectives: These are objectives of technical nature planned to be achieved through the present project which would serve the strategic objectives outlined above. These technical objectives are: 1. Develop, construct, and apply a mathematical model (based on the Finite Volume Method) for evaluating the velocity, salinity, and temperature distributions resulting from desalination/power plant effluent discharge into shallow coastal areas. 2. Validate the model by comparing numerical results with available data. 3. Apply the computer model, as a case study, to simulate effluent discharge from a desalination plant situated on the Arabian Gulf coast. Actual sea-bed topography in the vicinity of the plant would be accounted for under local climatic conditions. 4. Carry out parametric studies in order to investigate different discharge-problem scenarios. Such parameters include varying: sea-current speed and direction, wind speed and direction, mean seawater level, and plant desalting capacity. 5. With reference to technical objectives 3 and 4 above, various practical optimal alternatives to alleviate existing and potential problems could be established under different conditions. In addition to the environmental impact assessment, possible adverse impact of the discharge on the plant thermal efficiency and energy consumption could be assessed.

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