Keywords: desalination, geothermal energy, solar energy, Aero-Evapo-Condensation-Process (AECP), coupling, modelling, performances, optimisation
Feasibility investigation of coupling a desalination prototype functioning by Aero-Evapo-Condensation with solar units
The rural regions of south Mediterranean countries suffer from problems of drinking water supply. However, the majority of these regions have important resources of brackish salt water. Thus, brackish water desalination on a small scale presents a potential solution to this problem. For this reason, a number of small desalination prototypes are being developed worldwide. Bourouni et al. have developed a water desalination unit functioning by the Aero-Evapo-Condensation-Process (AECP) in order to satisfy this kind of water demand. One of the advantages of this prototype is that it allows the use of low temperature energy such as geothermal and solar energies abundant in these countries. An initial experiment was carried on an AECP prototype coupled to a geothermal spring in the south of Tunisia. The results relative to the technical and economic performances of the unit have shown that this kind of coupling is promising. On the other hand, the brackish water springs in these countries are often non-geothermal. In this case, the use of solar energy can be considered. Thus, we develop, in the present article, a feasibility investigation on the coupling of the AECP prototype with solar units. In fact, we analyse, in the first part of this article, the possibilities of this coupling in a manner that the functioning mode of the solar units will be compatible with that of the AECP prototype. To attempt this objective, two kinds of solar installation scenarios are considered and modelled to obtain their energetic contribution. Hence, the elaborated models are coupled to the one developed by Bourouni et al. for the AECP prototype to determine the technical and economic performances of the whole installation. In the last part of this article, a solar unit dimensioning is performed in order to minimise the total cost of the distilled water.