Renewable energy powered membrane technology: Brackish water desalination system operated using real wind fluctuations and energy buffering

Bryce S. Richards*, Gavin L. Park, Thomas Pietzsch, Andrea I. Schäfer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


The performance of a wind-powered membrane filtration system using a brackish water reverse osmosis (BW30) module and synthetic brackish (5500mg/L NaCl) feed water was determined. When tested with real wind speed data (average wind speed 6.1 m/s; interval of 1 s) over one day of realistic fluctuation levels, the wind-membrane system produced 0.78m3 of water with a final concentration of 191mg/L NaCl at an average specific energy consumption (SEC) of 7.2kWh/m3. When a single bank of supercapacitor (SC) energy buffers were added to the system, performance increased to 0.93m3 of permeate produced and a final concentration of 173mg/L NaCl at average SEC of 4.2kWh/m3. Tripling the size of the SC bank further increased productivity to 1.15m3 (47% increase) at a final concentration 172mg/L NaCl and average SEC of 3.1kWh/m3 (57% reduction). The time spent within the safe operating window (SOW) per day, increased from 8h12m under the poorest operating conditions up to 19h56m with the triple SC bank. Importantly, the results indicate that steady-state system performance at an average wind speed can be used as a very good indicator of the expected performance under fluctuating wind conditions. The results described can assist with the design of autonomous, decentralised, off-grid renewable energy powered water treatment systems and help decide whether to include energy buffering components. Wind-powered brackish water membrane system tested via 24h fluctuating conditions. Over this period, system produced 0.78m3 of potable water at SEC of 7.2kWh/m3. Supercapacitor (SC) energy buffer raised production to 1.15m3 at SEC of 3.1kWh/m3. Use of SC dramatically increased time system spent within safe operating window. Average wind speed can be reliably used to predict operation under real conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-232
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2014


  • Brackish water
  • Desalination
  • Energy storage
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Wind energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


Dive into the research topics of 'Renewable energy powered membrane technology: Brackish water desalination system operated using real wind fluctuations and energy buffering'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this