World’s Largest Desalination Plant Running with FILMTEC Membranes

Feb. 8, 2006

The second phase of the world's largest desalination plant is now successfully running. Due to its successful startup, the entire plant was fully commissioned and turned over to operations. The plant continues to rely on FILMTEC membrane technology from The Dow Chemical Co. for the plant's highly demanding seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) process.

Located in Ashkelon, Israel, the plant serves one of the most water-challenged areas of the world. The plant, owned and operated by VID Desalination Co., is designed to produce a total of 330,000 m3 per day of water. This will provide a sustainable source of freshwater to approximately 15% of the households in Israel located in areas with extremely dry conditions and limited freshwater sources.

VID Desalination Co. is a consortium of IDE Technologies, Ltd., equally owned by Israel Chemicals, Ltd. of the Israel Corp., Ltd. and Delek Group, as well as Veolia Water S.A.

"The successful operation of this plant speaks to the bright future seawater reverse osmosis technology has in addressing the needs of other regions, such as China, India and Africa, that are facing growing demand and limited availability of freshwater resources," said Ian Barbour, general manager of the Dow Liquid Separations business and CEO of FilmTec Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Co.

Consisting of 40,000 FILMTEC reverse osmosis (RO) elements in 32 RO treatment trains, the plant uses an optimized, multi-stage RO configuration and includes a boron removal process. The design is highly flexible and readily adjustable to feed water temperature fluctuations, and is capable of delivering water quality that exceeds World Health Organization standards.

"The success of this project is attributed to working with reliable and experienced partners and demonstrates once again that seawater desalination is a proven, sustainable source of freshwater,” stated Lance Johnson, manager of global large desalination projects for the Dow Chemical Co. "And, at 52 cents per cubic meter, the plant is a testament to how advances in RO membrane technology have made the production of quality drinking water from seawater more affordable and energy efficient.”

Over the past ten years, FilmTec has helped to decrease the cost of water treated by RO elements nearly threefold, while enhancements in membrane throughput and rejection have led to significant reductions in energy consumption.

“Our driving vision is to help customers produce the highest quality water at the lowest possible cost, and we're excited to see that vision achieved when put to the Ashkelon reality test," noted Barbour.

The project began in April 2003 and is part of a Desalination Master Plan launched by Israel in 2002 to help address the country's chronic water resource problems. The Water and Desalination Authority of Israel will use the treated water to supplement and upgrade the existing potable municipal water supply in this region with extremely dry conditions and limited freshwater resources.

Dow's association and close coordination with The OTID Consortium and Jacobson Agencies, Ltd., Dow's agent in Israel, was instrumental in the initial startup. The OTID Consortium is an association formed by OTV, part of Veolia Water, and IDE Technologies, Ltd. FILMTEC RO elements for the seawater desalination plant were selected to meet the demanding needs of the Ashkelon SWRO process.

Source: Dow Chemical Co.

Image by Burnham RNG, courtesy twentytwo & brand.