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Dynamic modeling of multi stage flash (MSF) desalination plant

Al-Fulaij, H.F.; (2011) Dynamic modeling of multi stage flash (MSF) desalination plant. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The world population is increasing at a very rapid rate while the natural water resources remain constant. During the past decades industrial desalination (reverse osmosis (RO) and multistage flash desalination (MSF)) became a viable, economical, and sustainable source of fresh water throughout the world. In the MSF units, the flashing of seawater involves formation of pure vapour, which flows through a wire mesh demister to remove the entrained brine droplets and then condenses into product water. The study presented in this thesis is motivated by the absence of detailed modelling and analysis of the dynamics of the MSF process and the demister. A detailed dynamic model can be used in design, control, startup/shutdown and troubleshooting. Most of the previous studies on MSF plant focused on model development and presented limited amount of performance data without any validation against plant data. Literature models of the MSF demister are either empirical or semi-empirical. This motivated use of a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software to design a new demister that will reduce the pressure/temperature drop in the vapour stream without affecting the separation efficiency of brine droplets and allows the optimal design of complete MSF units. Lumped parameter dynamic models were developed for the once through (MSF-OT) and the brine circulation (MSF-BC) processes. The models were coded using the gPROMS modelling program. The model predictions for both MSF-OT and MSF-BC in steady state and dynamic conditions showed good agreement against data from existing MSF plants with an error less than 1.5%. Dynamic analysis was made to study plant performance upon making step variations in system manipulated variables and identify stable operating regimes. New stable operating regimes were reached upon changing the cooling water flow rate by + 15% and increasing the recycle brine flow rate by 15% and decreasing it by 7%. This was not the case for the steam temperature where its variation was limited to + 2-3 %. This behavior is consistent with the actual plant data. The FLUENT software was used to model the MSF demister using different combinations of Eulerian and Lagrangian approaches to model the vapour and the brine droplets. This provided the open literature with novel and new methodologies for design and simulation of the MSF demister using CFD. A new demister design was made upon varying the wire diameter. This led to an efficient design with low pressure drop and high separation efficiency. This design was used in the MSF/gPROMS model to predict its effect on the heat transfer area. The new design provided reductions of 3-39% in the condenser heat transfer area without affecting dynamic performance. Since the tubing system accounts for almost 70% of the capital cost, then this would reduce the plant capital cost and product unit cost. The modelling approach presented in this thesis enables design of thermal desalination units to determine optimal heat transfer area and optimized operating conditions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Dynamic modeling of multi stage flash (MSF) desalination plant
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Chemical Engineering
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1324506
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