Justification for community-scale photovoltaic-powered electrodialysis desalination systems for inland rural villages in India

Natasha C. Wright, Amos G. Winter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper justifies photovoltaic (PV)-powered electrodialysis (ED) as an energy and cost-effective means of desalinating groundwater in rural India and presents the design requirements for a village-level system. Saline groundwater, which underlies 60% of India, can negatively impact health as well as cause a water source to be discarded because of its taste. A quarter of India's population live in villages of 2000-5000 people, many of which do not have reliable access to electricity. Most village-scale, on-grid desalination plants use reverse osmosis (RO), which is economically unviable in off-grid locations. Technical and ethnographic factors are used to develop an argument for PV-ED for rural locations, including: system capacity, biological and chemical contaminant removal; water aesthetics; recovery ratio; energy source; economics of water provision; maintenance; and the energetic and cost considerations of available technologies. Within the salinity range of groundwater in India, ED requires less specific energy than RO (75% less at 1000. mg/L and 30% less at 3000. mg/L). At 2000. mg/L, this energetic scaling translates to a 50% lower PV power system cost for ED versus RO. PV-ED has the potential to greatly expand the reach of desalination units for rural India.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-91
Number of pages10
JournalDesalination
Volume352
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 3 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Brackish groundwater
  • Electrodialysis
  • Photovoltaic energy
  • Rural
  • Small-scale

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