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Seawater Desalination

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Part of the SpringerBriefs in Applied Sciences and Technology book series (BRIEFSAPPLSCIENCES)


This chapter provides information on reverse osmosis as the major sea water desalination method.


  • Reverse osmosis
  • Desalinator

Several methods are available to desalinate seawater: reverse osmosis, vacuum distillation, multistage flash distillation, multiple-effect distillation, vapor compression distillation, freeze thaw, solar evaporation, electrodialysis reversal, membrane distillation, and wave-powered distillation.

Reverse osmosis is the commonly used system for large-scale desalination. Information about seawater desalination power consumption is provided in reference [1]. Typically, for a 500 kW power input into an electrolyzer, a fresh water flow of 2.16 m3/day is required, whereas for 5 MW, 21.6 m3/day are required.

The company Pure Aqua, Inc. provides the following information on their reverse osmosis system. For a fresh water flow of 2.6 m3/day, the required volume is 0.21 m3, the weight is 104 kg, and the power consumption is 1.5 kW. For a fresh water flow of 20.8 m3/day, the volume is 1.7, the weight is 386 kg, and the power consumption is 7.5 kW.

The reverse osmosis cost is very small compared to the other energy conversion equipment cost. According to Janke [2], the average cost is 2218 Euro/kW, based on 20 desalinators with power inputs between 24 and 322 kW. Ostolski [3] used this data to derive the correlation between the cost I (euro) and the power P(kW) as I = 17,211 P exp(0.55).


  1. Water Use Association Desalination Committee, Seawater Desalination Power Consumption, White Paper, November 2011

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  2. T. Janke, Sensitivity Analysis of a Techno-economic Optimal Wind-Energy Converter. Research Report S 240, Technical University Darmstadt, 19 February 2016

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  3. A. Ostolski, Energy Supply Optimization for Potential Estimation of an Innovative Wind Energy Converter. Research Report S 216, Technical University Darmstadt, 23 November 2015

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Platzer, M.F., Sarigul-Klijn, N. (2021). Seawater Desalination. In: The Green Energy Ship Concept. SpringerBriefs in Applied Sciences and Technology. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-58243-2

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