How to Improve the Recovery Rate of Seawater Desalination System?

The increasing demand for water worldwide has led to the rapid development of desalination technology. Compared to methods such as distillation and electrodialysis, reverse osmosis desalination is currently the most cost-effective method of desalination because of the low energy consumption to produce water.

In this article, we’ll discuss some ways to improve the recovery rate of your seawater desalination system. Stay tuned!

Figure 1 The importance of desalination

1. What are the Advantages of Seawater Desalination?

With the unprecedented growth of the world’s population and the general increase in the standard of living of people, we are facing a crisis of scarcity of available fresh water. With 96% of the world’s water being saline, the use of desalination is a viable and cost-effective solution to alleviate the water treatment crisis.

Desalination currently has many benefits, including the following:

  • Provides a reliable source of fresh water for island areas, fisheries, hotels, municipalities, etc., even in areas where water is scarce.
  • Helps decrease the dependence on groundwater and surface water sources, which can be affected by drought or other environmental factors.
  • Reduce the number of pollutants in freshwater supplies, as seawater is much less likely to be contaminated than other water sources.
  • A renewable resource, as seawater is constantly being replenished by precipitation.
  • Relatively energy-efficient, as it uses less energy and has different power supply methods.
  • Produce other products, such as salt and brine, which can have a variety of uses.

2. Factors Affecting the Recovery Rate of Desalination Systems.

The recovery rate is an important factor in determining the overall efficiency of a desalination system. The recovery rate is defined as the amount of freshwater produced divided by the amount of seawater absorbed. A higher recovery rate means that more fresh water is produced per unit of seawater and therefore the system is more efficient.

The reverse osmosis desalination method has low energy consumption per ton of water, uses room temperature operation, and is easy to maintain and manage. People have been focusing on the development of high-performance RO desalination methods. At present, the water recovery rate of RO desalination is 30~40%.

The water recovery rate is directly related to the energy consumption of tons of water, so many countries have made high recovery rates (such as a recovery rate of 65%) of seawater reverse osmosis technology the focus of development. However, with the increase in recovery, the membrane surface seawater osmotic pressure rises, and the concentration of scaling components in seawater precipitation, and scaling will lead to a significant reduction in the amount of production. To improve the recovery rate of seawater reverse osmosis desalination, the osmotic pressure will become the main constraint factor.

Figure 2 Seawater Desalination

Currently, the operating pressure of seawater reverse osmosis is 50~60kg/cm2, and one way to improve the recovery rate is to increase the operating pressure. In this case, the pressure resistance of the membrane module must be improved. The selection of membrane materials, improvement of membrane structure, and development of high-pressure resistant elements will be the focus of research to pre-remove, as the increase in recovery rate is accompanied by the problem of scaling on the membrane surface of RO, a new pretreatment technology needs to be developed to pre-remove the scaling components from seawater.

High-temperature seawater reverse osmosis desalination technology has also been suggested through calculations. The increased seawater temperature inhibits or kills microorganisms that cause membrane performance degradation, and the water viscosity decreases and membrane flux increases. This method is suitable for sites with hot seawater or available heat sources for wastewater, such as coastal power plants where seawater is used as cooling water or the use of urban waste heat.

Figure 3 RO Desalination System

3. Advantages of High Recovery Reverse Osmosis Desalination.

The advantage of a high recovery rate in reverse osmosis desalination is to reduce the amount of seawater extraction, i.e., seawater extraction equipment, pretreatment equipment, and drainage treatment equipment, and the construction and operation costs are reduced accordingly. In the reverse osmosis desalination project, the construction cost of water extraction equipment, water discharge equipment, and pretreatment equipment account for about 40% of the total investment cost of reverse osmosis desalination equipment, high recovery rate desalination system will make the investment cost significantly reduced.

4. Several Main Processes of High Recovery Rate Reverse Osmosis Desalination.

A high recovery reverse osmosis desalination system should be considered to remove the fouling component. The main high-recovery reverse osmosis processes are the primary desalination process and the secondary desalination processes.

Figure 4 Several main process flows for high recovery reverse osmosis desalination

5. NEWater Desalination Equipment Makes It Possible to Increase the Recovery Rate of Seawater Desalination.


5.1 NEWater Desalination Plant Offers Potential to Increase Desalinated Water Recovery

The future of seawater desalination is likely to be more widespread as the demand for freshwater increases and technology continues to improve. The process has advantages, including the fact that it is relatively efficient and can be used in locations where other water sources are scarce. Despite these challenges, seawater desalination is likely to play an important role in water security in the future. The process can help to supplement or replace other water sources in areas where they are limited, and it can provide a reliable source of fresh water even in times of drought.

Figure5 NEWater Solar Portable Desalination System

5.2 Application Areas of the NEWater Seawater Desalination

Desalination, as an extremely economical water treatment method, has been penetrating into people’s daily life with the improvement of technology, such as industrial water treatment, hotel water, food processing, domestic water for coastal areas and islanders, fishing boat operations, disaster relief, etc.

Considering the inconvenience of electricity in some remote areas, NEWater also supports the use of solar energy as an energy source. With high efficiency and no pollution to the environment, people can get healthy drinking water anytime and anywhere. We also provide smaller portable desalination equipment to reduce the space occupation and inconvenience of moving the equipment.

Figure 6 Applications of the NEWater Seawater Desalination

5.3 NEWater Seawater Desalination System Advantages

  • Functional simplicity: They are simple to set up and operate, requiring little or no expertise or training.
  • Innovative advantage: Our innovative development of an energy recovery system has been widely accepted and adopted, which focuses on solving energy-saving problems.
  • Competitive market advantage: Our desalination system is energy efficient compared to the numerous small desalination systems on the market that have high energy consumption.
  • A strong team of professionals: To contribute to the mission and vision of our company, our team is comprised of individuals who have become experts in their respective fields.

Figure 7 NEWater Skid Mounted Desalination System

6. Conclusion

The freshwater crisis is a problem we all need to face nowadays, and desalination is a reliable and economically efficient way to do so. NEWater hopes to make access to freshwater resources more convenient by continuously innovating and developing new technologies through our expertise and skills to increase the recovery rate of desalination systems as much as possible.

If you are interested in learning more about our various desalination plant systems, please contact our customer service representatives today at

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