Integrated seawater hub: A nexus of sustainable water, energy, and resource generation

Elsevier, Desalination, Volume 571, 1 February 2024
M.S. S., Elmakki T., Schipper K., Ihm S., Yoo Y., Park B. et al.

This review paper explores the potential for seawater desalination plants to operate as integrated hubs for addressing the increasing demand for water, energy, mineral resources, and foods, particularly in resource-scarce regions. The integrated seawater hub (ISH) utilizes seawater as a common input, provides multipurpose facilities that can cater to freshwater and agricultural requirements, brine processing for salt and minerals extraction, promotes energy recovery, and mitigates greenhouse gas emissions by employing renewable and alternative energy technologies, thereby bolstering sustainable development. Capitalizing on seawater, the most abundant resource on our planet, these plants can contribute significantly to the sustainability sector. This study delves into the essential aspects of integrating mainly the seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination process to create a portfolio of clean, sustainable water supplies, energy sources, and other valuable products. Furthermore, this paper seeks to offer a comprehensive analysis within a unified framework, incorporating various established technologies that demonstrate the multifaceted capabilities of desalination plants. This includes the delivery of a freshwater supply and effectively repurposing the brine, the primary liquid waste product from these facilities. Emphasizing the potential to achieve a circular economy centered on brine management, our review presents an environmentally friendly approach to urban development. The study also explores emerging research domains where seawater desalination plants utilize renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and biomass to produce clean water and green hydrogen. It suggests that further research and investment in the realm of integrated seawater resource hubs could yield significant benefits for both local communities and the wider global community.