Economic viability of incorporating multi-effect distillation with district cooling systems in the United Arab Emirates

Ben Richard Hughes*, Fatemeh Rezazadeh, Hassam Nasarullah Chaudhry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the most advanced and developed desalination systems in the world, mainly located along the shore. The aim of this study is to analyze the economic feasibility of incorporating the two most prominent types of desalination systems within the existing district cooling plants in the UAE by utilizing waste heat recovery. Mathematical models are established to compare reverse osmosis (RO) with multi-effect distillation (MED) technology coupled with district cooling in terms of capital and operational costs. Calculated power consumptions were 5.65 MW and 6.65 MW for reverse osmosis and multi-effect distillation respectively. Total capital expenditure during the system life-cycle of 15 years was estimated at US$3.3 million for reverse osmosis and US$3.9 million for multi-effect distillation technique, both in combination with district cooling. The results indicate that the multi-effect distillation technique integrated with district cooling consumes approximately 25% less operational costs than the reverse osmosis integrated district cooling over their life-cycle. On the other hand, thus highlighting the long-term viability of introducing the incorporation of multi-effect distillation technique with district cooling systems in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Desalination
  • District cooling
  • Multi-effect distillation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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