Design and control of an integrated wind-water desalination system for an inland municipality



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Texas Tech University


Current water pricing standards do not take economic responsibility for dwindling potable water aquifer resources. By only incorporating financial, but not true economic costs of these scarce resources, serious depletion of these often slow-recharging groundwater resources has occurred in many areas in the United States. Aquifer depletion for some areas looms on a 50-year or closer horizon, and many municipalities in the Southwest and elsewhere face potential distress due to lack of sustainable fresh water availability. In order for these cities to remain economically and physically viable, alternative water resources must be found.

An affected West Texas inland municipality will become the subject of research to evaluate the technology and economics of a full-scale, integrated, wind-powered reverse osmosis water purification system. The integrated system will be applied to produce potable water from a brackish aquifer using renewable energy to reduce the energy costs of the system. An adaptive and intelligent control algorithm will control the integrated wind-water system.

The algorithm will process streaming real-time water use and electrical demand data in combination with wind speed measurements in order to determine the best use of the energy produced by a turbine array: either for water purification or for displacing conventional power on other municipal loads. The end product of this system is a water purification process that will utilize a brackish water aquifer for all of the city‘s potable water needs, and wind energy for all associated pumping, reverse osmosis, distribution and other electrical loads.