Tuas Seawater Desalination Plant

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Courtesy of Black & Veatch Corporation

Black & Veatch designed the largest membrane desalination plant in Southeast Asia to help Singapore reach a critical technical milestone in its drive to overcome drinking water supply issues.

The island of Singapore is among the world's 20 smallest countries in land area, but is one of the most densely populated. This highly developed city-nation enjoys a tropical climate with abundant rainfall, but population growth and economic development are placing great pressure on freshwater resources. Innovative treatment processes are essential to maintaining a safe and plentiful supply of drinking water, which mitigates the requirement to look beyond its borders for needed resources.

Black & Veatch has a rich history of solving complex water issues in Singapore. The company has played a vital role in some of the city-nation's most important water supply and treatment projects of the 20th century. It started more than 80 years ago, when Black & Veatch engineered the first major water transfer scheme in Singapore, bringing fresh water from southern Malaysia.

In January 2003, the Design-Build-Own-Operate contract for Singapore's first major desalination plant was awarded to SingSpring Pte Ltd. (a subsidiary of Hyflux Ltd.) by the Public Utilities Board. With extensive experience in providing water solutions in Singapore, Black & Veatch was a natural choice when SingSpring decided to appoint a technology partner for this important project.

Black & Veatch, in collaboration with the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor Hydrochem (a wholly owned subsidiary of Hyflux), designed a state-of-the-art plant in Tuas to transform seawater into potable water. Seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO), a membrane technology, was selected as the most cost-effective approach.

At the Tuas Seawater Desalination Plant, seawater is screened and filtered prior to the extraction of dissolved salts, which uses two stages of reverse osmosis membranes. After the reverse osmosis process, the water is then further treated to make the water suitable for distribution and consumption.

In addition to high-tech purification, energy efficiency has been an important consideration in the design of the plant. Utilizing energy recovery devices, Black & Veatch has helped the Tuas plant achieve an overall efficiency of 4.3 kWh/m3, making it one of the most energy-efficient SWRO plants in the world – an achievement that provides a cost-effective solution to a basic and ultimately critical need in Singapore.

Completed in 2005, the Tuas plant is Southeast Asia's largest membrane desalter and represents a critical technical milestone in Singapore's drive to overcome its water supply issues. By providing enough water to meet about 10 percent of the national demand, it shows how Black & Veatch continues to play an integral role in Building a World of Difference for the people of Singapore.

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