Producing drinking water from seawater with waste energy

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Courtesy of Terrawater GmbH

German firm Taprogge and ESACO (Vietnam) are jointly investing in seawater desalination technology in the country. The Saigon Times Daily had a talk with Detlef Taprogge, CEO of Taprogge, about the Taprogge Terrawater Technology during a recent demonstration of a system using this tech in HCMC’s Can Gio District. Excerpts:

The Saigon Times Daily: What is the specific of this system?
Detlef Taprogge: It’s a system based on the use of waste energy. We’ve engineered the solution that allows us to use energy levels between 80 and 100 degrees Celsius that can be found in many industrial plants. It’s waste energy. We were inspired by the nature’s water cycle. We do nothing but what nature does: In nature we need the sun to heat up the water on earth which finally condensates as clouds and precipitates as rain drops back to earth.

In principle, we heat up a stream of seawater or wastewater to a level of 80-100 degrees Celsius, and then let it drop down. Simultaneously a counter-current air stream lifts the water drops up. While rising up, the air takes up more and more humidity as its temperature increases, and we then bring the air – highly loaded with humidity - in contact with a colder surface so that the humidity in the air condensates into pure water of distillate quality.

Does this system use chemicals like other desalination systems do?
Well, a very important point is that our system is different from any other desalination system. It does not use chemicals. Traditionally, if you separate seawater into a good stream and a concentrate stream, the chemicals you add will also end up at the concentrate, in the so-called “brine”, which may be discharged to the sea, again. We don’t want that. Our desalination process does not pollute the source water.

Can one use solar energy to run the system?
Solar panels are ideal. The ideal full process would be to couple solar panels with our system. And that is a “green” plant because it is CO2 free. We do need, though, a tiny portion of electricity, but much, much lower than anything before. Another application may be the following: imagine, you have a generator set, a diesel engine, for instance, to produce energy - electricity. But you waste in this diesel engine may be 60% of the energy. It all goes out through the chimney or is destroyed in the cooling water circuit. This is wasted energy. For our technology, however, the temperature of the cooling water circuit is valuable.

How about combining a diesel engine that produces electricity with a Taprogge Terrawater System, then you produce electricity plus water. In this case, you increase the efficiency of the diesel engine, by helping produce drinkable water. And when you are on an island, you need electricity and water. Then life starts.

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