Availability can be defined as the probability that a system or piece of equipment when used under the specified conditions operates satisfactorily at any given time. The availability of the equipment installed in a seawater reverse osmosis facility (SWRO) is extremely important to the price, quality, and quantity of the final product—water. There are three critical components in the SWRO processes; the main high-pressure feed pumps, the RO membranes, and the energy recovery device (ERD) system. This paper focuses on the economic benefits and importance of the availability of energy recovery devices in SWRO desalination plants.

The largest operating expense for an SWRO facility is the power consumed, which accounts for approximately 30% of the total RO operating expense. Typically for large facilities (>50,000m3/d), the ERDs responsible for reducing energy consumption are only a fraction of the initial capital cost (~1-2%) of the entire plant, but offer major return on investment through energy savings.

The role that ERDs play is undeniably critical to success or failure of an RO facility.

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