This chapter proposes an alternative system for conventional reverse osmosis (RO) and electrodialysis (ED) desalination plants by incorporating the use of gravitational potential energy (GPE). The proposed system is devised with two subsystems, the RO module followed by the ED module, both simultaneously powered by GPE. This kind of energy is obtained by storing the brackish water to be desalinated. The system’s primary source of energy is wind. Windmills harness the wind energy to pump water to a reservoir located at a certain height (<20 m). The stored water has the GPE that will make a special plunger pump work. The piston of this special plunger pump is designed so that high pressure (about 15 bar) can be achieved in a different way from conventional RO plants. In the alternative system, here proposed, to pump water to the RO membranes, the special pistons go downward due to their own weight and are lifted, through a system of pulleys, with a counterweight filled with water obtained from the reservoir. The technical viability of the alternatives was theoretically proven by deductions based on physics and mathematics and with a special plunger pump prototype that worked successfully.
Part of the book: Electrodialysis