Environmental life cycle assessment of brackish water reverse osmosis desalination for different electricity production models

Jin Zhou, Victor .W.-C. Chang, Anthony G. Fane

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33 Citations (Scopus)


The main purpose of this work is to evaluate the importance of electricity production models based on the environmental impacts from a brackish water reverse osmosis (BWRO) plant. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to compare the environmental burdens of a BWRO plant with three different electricity production models in the United States, Singapore, and Spain. Input and output flows of BWRO plants are based on a study done by Munoz; life cycle inventories (LCIs) for the United States and Spain are adopted from Ecoinvent Database, while LCI for the Singapore electricity supply scheme is developed for the first time. The results highlight Singapore, the country with unique fuel mixes for electricity generation, achieves relatively better environmental savings in most impact categories at the current stage due to a high percentage of natural gas in the fossil fuel matrix. Results from uncertainty analysis further recognize the significance of this advantage. Furthermore, the results indicate the antiscalant application, power plant efficiency, and fuel exploration and production are also highly associated with the environmental performance of BWRO plant in certain categories. This work provides the first reference to conduct LCA of BWRO plant in Southeast Asia. It also provides a good reference for potential strategies to relieve environmental impacts of the RO desalination process. © 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2267-2278
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy & Environmental Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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