Seawater desalination technologies have evolved rapidly along with increasing water demands. Yet, the evolution of seawater desalination is threatened by the emerging issues of marine pollution, which are exacerbated by the unsustainable expansion of desalination itself. Unsustainable environmental activity in the coastal environment erodes the resource base on which desalination, and most of the so-called blue economy, depends. Therefore, resource-efficient, low-impact seawater desalination is a pressing need.
Technology gathers momentum due to this need, but still contributions that meaningfully address technical, economic and environmental issues of desalination are urgently required in this era.
iFOS introduces the concept of forecasting in desalination plant optimization. The project will deliver a satellite-assisted, short-term forecasting service for the most crucial environmental parameters of the coastal zone and a decision support system (DSS), integrated in a user-friendly web-based platform, which enables proactive decision-making in everyday desalination operations.
The forecasting system will be offering (a) daily concentration maps of key water quality parameters for each day of a ten-day forecast period and (b) visualizations of satellite-derived water quality. The forecast system will be subsequently feeding a DSS to progress decision-making from descriptive (“what happened”) and diagnostic levels (“why did it happen”) to a prescriptive level (“how to respond”).
The DSS will comprise two functionalities: (a) an early warning system to issue readily interpretable warnings and (b) a process optimization tool to indicate promptly those operating conditions that ensure the desired level of seawater treatment in a cost-efficient manner.
Advanced Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) will integrate seamlessly the abovementioned functionalities in an intuitive and user-friendly interface, ensuring, concurrently, data storage, management, and security.
Situational intelligence. iFOS introduces satellite-derived water quality products and model-based forecast into decision making, filling information gaps in space and time. A web-based, operational platform will facilitate interoperability among existing user’s data flows and modelled services, turning disconnected streams of raw data into actionable intelligence.
Regulatory compliance at low cost. Continuous monitoring of the critical environmental parameters affecting desalination supports the increasingly stricter compliance requirements. Though the seamless modelling of complex and dynamic systems, desalination operators can describe in an innovative way the cause-and-effect relationships that guide them in making quick and data-informed decisions.
Adaptive planning. Forecasting ten days ahead the response of complex systems provides the ability to assess adaptive scenarios and strategies at scale, reducing the impacts from water quality deterioration.
Early detection and rapid response. The early warning functionality of the service can increase the responsiveness level of desalination operators against possible short-to-medium term changes of the quantity and quality of seawater and, thus, enable proactive informed decision making. In principle, the early warning functionality adheres on the generic concepts underlying the development of an effective Early Warning System, that is: Risk knowledge, Monitoring and warning service, Dissemination and communication and Response capability.
Increased operational intelligence. The DSS provides insight into operations, enabling clients to understand and improve the day-to-day performance of their plants. Operational analytics that combine past and current data with predictive simulations, inform complex operational and business decisions.
OPEX & CAPEX efficiency. The industry-tailored DSS for the chemical – energy nexus provides opportunities to reduce the costs of seawater treatment, generating both more revenue and higher profit margin. At the same time, efficiently operating treatment facilities can extend asset life and delay capital investments.