Hydraulic switch-mode power transformer for wave powered desalination plants
Efficient hydraulic power-take-off circuit for wave-powered reverse osmosis desalination plants that independently controls the load on the wave energy converter and the pressure at the reverse osmosis membrane through a switching valve
- Wave-powered reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plants
- Optimization of RO systems in water and wastewater treatment plants
- Remote actuation in general fluid power applications
Key Benefits & Differentiators
- Eliminates major design constraints: Using a switch-mode power transformer decouples the operating pressures of the power source and RO process
- Higher uptime and process control: The electric generator can potentially operate as an electric motor to augment the performance of the transformer
- Lower equipment costs: New configuration reduces component size requirements related to the power source and uses fewer high cost components than other power transformers,which can result in significant cost savings
Currently, 1% of the world’s population consumes water from desalination, but the United Nations (UN) estimates that by 2025 this number will reach 14%. Desalination is mainly performed through reverse osmosis (RO) or distillation, which are both energy-intensive processes. Unfortunately, this high energy consumption makes desalination expensive and might result in high carbon emissions depending on the energy source. Wave-driven desalination plants, which use energy harvested from ocean waves to power RO systems, are a potential solution to this problem. However, significant design constraints and energy losses arising from coupling wave energy harvesting and RO processes need to be addressed, namely 1) that pressure pulsations generated by the wave energy harvesting process must not exceed levels appropriate for the RO system components and 2) that the operating pressure of the wave energy harvesting process is constrained to the limits of the RO process.
To overcome these challenges researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a new fluid power circuit configuration that uses a hydraulic switch-mode power transformer (SMPT) with an electrical generator. In this new configuration, the SMPT uses the inertia of a hydraulic motor driven electric generator and switching of the hydraulic motor inlet between high and low-pressure sources to decrease the pressure at which power is transmitted to the RO process from the levels used in the wave energy harvesting process. This novel technology decouples the operating pressures of the wave energy harvesting and RO processes, allowing the wave energy harvesting process to operate at higher pressures, improving the power density and enabling a significant reduction in component sizes (e.g. a 77% reduction in displacement of the wave energy converter-driven pump). This technology can potentially lead to more sustainable and cost efficient desalination plants. This novel technology is particularly relevant for establishing desalination plants in vulnerable coastal communities, which have experienced persistent water shortages and have limited power supply. Besides wave-driven desalination plants this technology can be used to improve power density, decrease power consumption, and improve controllability of RO systems in water and wastewater treatment plants, and general fluid power circuit applications such as off highway equipment.
Phase of DevelopmentTRL: 2-3
Proof of concept using mathematical models has been performed
Desired PartnershipsThis technology is now available for:
- Sponsored research
Please contact our office to share your business’ needs and learn more.
- James Van de Ven Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department
|MN-IP Try and Buy|
|Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) Try and Buy – Available to CCEFP member companies|
|Please contact us for detailed term sheet for a Try & Buy agreement as well as guidelines for Try1 and post-Try period2 business plans as well as qualified startups3|
- Simmons, Jeremy W., and James D. Van de Ven , Switch-mode power transformer in a wave-powered, reverse osmosis desalination plant, Fluid Power Systems Technology
swap_vertical_circlecloud_downloadSupporting documents (0)Additional files may be available once you've completed the transaction for this product. If you've already done so, please log into your account and visit My account / Downloads section to view them.