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Seawater Desalination Growing OriginWater’s RO Technology on Par with the World

文章来源:未知     作者:admin


In view of the current momentum and performance of environmental protection enterprises like OriginWater, some internationally competitive Chinese seawater desalination enterprises will probably stand out during the “13th Five-Year Plan”. 

At the NPC and CPPCC of 2017, a proposal titled Suggestions on Further Promoting the Development of Seawater Desalination Industry from the Jiusan Society again pushed the seawater desalination industry into people’s view. 

The proposal argues that at present, China’s seawater desalination technology is not as good as their overseas counterparts. In terms of cost, the per-ton-water average cost of seawater desalination in China is RMB 5-8 yuan, clearly higher than that of advanced projects abroad: RMB 3-4 yuan. 

The proposal suggests that the management mechanism should be straightened out; the investment, construction, operation management institutions and mechanisms of seawater desalination projects should be clarified at the state level; the support of policy should be strengthened; specific schemes and rules of government subsidies should be formulated; subsidy schemes for different regions and different desalination technologies should be defined, and the scientific research input should be increased. 

In fact, in view of technical progress in the past 15 years, China’s comprehensive cost of seawater desalination has decreased by nearly 60%. Even if the rate of decrease slows down in future, the trend is still enough to make the market remain optimistic for future prospects. 

Especially with the issuance of the “13th Five-Year Plan” of National Seawater Utilization (The Plan for short) at the end of 2016, seawater desalination industry has been given a boost, quickly drawing extensive attention of the market. 

The plan triggers high market expectation 

According to the goal set forth in The Plan, by 2020, the total scale of nationwide seawater desalination is to reach 2,200,000 tons/day. Compared with the total project scale of 1,000,000 tons/day at the end of 2015, this goal has doubled. 

In addition, by the end of the “13th Five-Year Plan”, seawater desalination scale of coastal cities will increase by above 1,050,000 tons/day, and that in island areas by above 140,000 tons/day. Seawater desalination equipment’s independent innovation rate will reach 80% or above, proprietary technology’s domestic market share will reach 70%, and international market share will increase by 10%. 

More urgent than the objectives in The Plan is the thirst for water in many places. 

Relevant data shows that water resources in China are characterized by resource-type water shortage in northern China, water quality-induced water shortage in southern China, over exploitation of groundwater and serious seawater intrusion. Per capita hold of water resources is only 1/4 of the world’s average level, the amount of water per capita in 16 provinces is lower than the severe water shortage level, and that of some northern regions is even lower than the minimum standard; the local water can hardly sustain the ecological demand. 

Interbasin water transfer, however, cannot solve the fundamental problem —— shortage of water resources. According to the National Integrated Water Resources Planning by Ministry of Water Resources, by 2030, even with the South-to-North Water Diversion, the annual water deficit in coastal regions will still reach 21.4 billion m³. 

China’s shortage of water resources and prominent contradiction between water resources supply and demand has become one of the major bottlenecks restricting sustainable economic and social development. As an important supplement to and strategic reserve for water resources, seawater utilization is an important means to solve the shortage of water resources in coastal regions, and has gradually become the consensus and common practice throughout the world. 

On a global scale, by 2015, the annual growth rate of seawater desalination has reached 8%, and the seawater desalination project scale has already reached 86,550,000 tons/day. It is expected that by 2018 the global desalination project’s total installed capacity will reach a daily yield of 138 million tons. 

Therefore, at present, the seawater desalination planning objectives in various regions have added up to more than what’s planned in the “13th Five-Year Plan” -- 2,200,000 tons/day. For example, according to published statistics, the Jingtang Caofeidian project’s planning scale is already 2,800,000 tons, and the Phase-II project whose planning scale is 100,000 tons was commenced in 2014. 

It is easy to see that the combination of multiple factors has triggered the current market’s high expectations for seawater desalination. 

Breaking through two bottlenecks 

Sought after by the market, seawater desalination still needs to break through two bottlenecks ASAP: core technology and collaboration mechanism. 

Since China’s first National Special Plan of Seawater Utilization was issued in 2005, great progress has been made in seawater utilization. Among them, raising the localization rate or independent innovation rate has always been an important part of the overall objectives, and each version of the plan has set specific goals for this. 

Since improving the core technology’s independent innovation and engineering level is the most important means to reduce the seawater desalination cost, many enterprises at present are actively seeking to substantially improve innovation ability through independent R&D and acquisition. 

For example, in terms of independent R&D, Wen Jianping, President of OriginWater said, “High-performance RO membrane technology is the high ground of seawater desalination, and OriginWater must have proprietary intellectual property rights, master this core technology and lead the world in this aspect, breaking foreign companies’ monopoly of advanced RO membrane technology.” 

In 2014, OriginWater took up Qingdao Dongjiakou seawater desalination project, and the scale of the phase-I project was 100,000 tons/day, with a long-term plan of 300,000 tons/day. This project adopted OriginWater’s “ultrafiltration membrane (UF) + reverse osmosis membrane (RO)” double-membrane process, which made the water treatment price per ton decrease by about 30%. 

In early Sep. 2016, Dongjiakou seawater desalination project was put into trial operation, and its daily water yield reached 40,000 tons/day, effectively alleviating the water use problem of large enterprises in Dongjiakou Economic Zone, such as Qingdao Steel and Haijing Chemical. The first-level and second-level reverse osmosis membranes that this seawater desalination project adopted are specifically SWRO membrane and BWRO membrane which are independently developed by OriginWater. 

OriginWater has successfully developed composite RO membranes applicable to seawater desalination. This type of reverse osmosis membrane has a high desalination rate, and it is not disposed of with the post-oxidation treatment process. Therefore it has higher stability in the long-run, achieving a historic breakthrough of self-developed SWRO membrane. 

Moreover, OriginWater has strengthened its R&D efforts, and has gradually launched high flux, low-energy-consumption and anti-pollution seawater desalination membranes. It is continuously improving the existing varieties of seawater desalination membranes to apply to a variety of waters. 

BWRO-ULP ultra-low pressure reverse osmosis membrane is OriginWater’s newly developed aromatic polyamide composite RO membrane. It can maintain a high flux and a high desalination rate with an operating pressure 30% lower than traditional low-pressure composite RO membranes, and has a wider water quality range and pressure range. Its performance feature of high flux and high desalination rate under low pressure substantially decreases RO system’s operating cost and saves a lot of energy, which makes RO system easier to be popularized and recognized. 

Furthermore, in response to the domestic demand of reverse osmosis membrane production line and equipment, OriginWater has, for the first time, nationalized the RO membrane production line and the interfacial polymerization production line and, through independent design and processing, built a fourth-generation RO membrane production line. The production line covers an area of over 5,800 m², with an investment of over RMB 100 million, and an annual output of 8,000,000 m² membranes; its production energy consumption decreased by 30%, production cost decreased by 20%, production efficiency increased by nearly three times, and production capacity rose by about four times, which are all at the leading level in the world. 

By means of its high-performance seawater desalination RO membrane technology, OriginWater has also developed seawater desalination series products, of which the marine seawater desalination unit with “reverse osmosis membrane (RO) + ultra-low pressure nanofiltration membrane (DF)” is an example which can meet the seawater desalination demand of warships, ocean-going fishing vessels, yachts, etc. 

At present, OriginWater has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Liaoning Fishing Vessel, Fishery Machinery and Fishery Gear Association. During the “13th Five-Year Plan”, the cooperation will gradually promote the use of OriginWater’s seawater desalination equipment on 17,000 fishing vessels, 218 central fishing ports, and yet to be built leisure fishing ports in Liaoning Province, providing fresh water for fishing vessels’ water replenishing, harbours, and fishery ice-making, thereby substantially improving the local fishermen’s domestic drinking water environment quality. 

According to The Plan, by 2020, China’s seawater utilization will realize large-scale application; proprietary core technologies, materials and key equipment for seawater utilization will achieve product serialization; the industrial chain will be complete, and some internationally-competitive leading enterprises will stand out. 

In view of the current momentum and performance of environmental protection enterprises like OriginWater, there has been a wave of well-known Chinese high-tech environmental protection enterprises catching up with leading foreign high-tech environmental protection enterprises. With the localization of reverse osmosis membranes, some leading Chinese enterprises with international competitiveness in this field will show great growth during the “13th Five-Year Plan”.