Graduation Year

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D.

Keywords

Solar energy, Seawater separation, Desalting, Distillation, Evaporation

Abstract

Experimental and theoretical simulations of a novel sustainable desalination process have been carried out. The simulated process consists of pumping seawater through a solar heater before flashing it under vacuum in an elevated chamber. The vacuum is passively created and then maintained by the hydrostatic balance between pressure inside the elevated flash chamber and outdoor atmospheric pressure. The experimental simulations were carried out using a pilot unit built to depict the proposed desalination system. Theoretical simulations were performed using a detailed computer code employing fundamental physical and thermodynamic laws to describe the separation process, complimented by experimentally based correlations to estimate physical properties of the involved species and operational parameters of the proposed system setting it apart from previous empirical desalination models. Experimental and theoretical simulation results matched well with one another, validating the developed model. Feasibility of the proposed system rapidly increased with flash temperature due to increased fresh water production and improved heat recovery. In addition, the proposed desalination system is naturally sustainable by solar radiation and gravity, making it very energy efficient.

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