Articles & Case Studies


Posted: Monday 1st December 2008

ACWA Emirates LLC - a subsidiary of Skipton (UK) based ACWA Services - has completed the first phase of a $120 million contract to build two identical Seawater Desalination Plants on the Crescent of “Palm Jumeirah” – the palm-shaped island development created off the coast of Dubai (UAE). The contract was awarded to ACWA by Palm Water, the utility company for the development.

Palm Water and its consultant, Mott MacDonald, were heavily involved in the design, project management, commissioning, operation and monitoring of plant performance.

The new treatment plant, which has been up and running since May this year, has successfully completed reliability trials, taking over from a temporary system, installed by ACWA at the same site. The temporary desalination plant operated for over a year whilst the first phase of new project was under construction.

Often referred to as “The Eighth Wonder of the World”, Palm Island is the first of many similar developments established in the area to dramatically increase Dubai’s shoreline and create a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment areas.

Capable of producing up to 32,000 cubic metres per day of high quality drinking water, the ACWA desalination plant includes screening, ultra-filtration, two stage reverse osmosis, disinfection and remineralisation processes, designed and integrated with state of the art controls and SCADA systems to turn poor quality seawater into high quality water for residential consumption and a variety of island service facilities. In the initial stages of production, the plant will provide water for large numbers of site workers at the various construction camps set up for building the island’s infrastructure, hotels and leisure facilities.

The optimal process design, delivered by ACWA was required to overcome a number of challenges:

In the early years of plant operation, Palm Jumeirah will still have substantial construction activities in progress and it is evident that the seawater quality will continue to be very poor for quite a long time. To address this, the ACWA design uses specially selected water quality monitors in the intake structure to provide an early warning of changes in raw water quality and to allow the necessary operational adjustments to be made to the treatment process.

Reverse Osmosis membranes are at the heart of the desalination treatment process and their reliability and working life is dependent on the effective pre-treatment of the raw water. This is achieved by the use of Ultra Filtration membranes – a breakthrough on plants of this size that offers clear benefits over more conventional technologies. During the course of design ACWA evaluated a number of options for pre-treatment and concluded that Seaguard Membranes from Norit X-Flow provided the best option. Twelve trains of ultrafiltration have been provided to treat over 90,000 cubic metres of raw seawater per day.

The UF system protects the RO membranes and ensures that the seawater characteristics are suitably adjusted for RO treatment. The design capacity is achieved solely with duty UF units and provision has been made for down-time (non-production time) for periodic, automatic cleaning and integrity testing. The units are arranged in such a way that total production is maintained without the need for a standby UF unit.

Having given special consideration to rising energy costs, the plant includes equipment to recover energy from the reject brine stream. The Energy Recovery System transfers energy at high efficiency from RO plant brine to the low-pressure UF filtrate feed pumps.

The second phase of the project -- a replica of the first phase – will double the treatment capacity to 64,000 cubic metres per day and should be completed next year.

ACWA has operated and maintained the temporary plant since April 2007 and the new plant since May 2008. ACWA’s Managing Director, Peter Ripley commented, “Bearing in mind the state of the badly harsh condition of the seawater, I am more than delighted with the very high quality of the treated water and the overall reliability of the treatment plant.”

ACWA Sales: David Spurr (ACWA) 01756 794794

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