Desalination plant powered by waste heat opens in Maldives
The small Maldivian Island of Gulhi (Maldives) welcomes the world’s first desalination unit utilizing the waste heat of the local power generator to produce up to 10.000 litres of drinking water per day. The island is home to about 1200 inhabitants, a shipyard and a growing number of guesthouses. There are no natural sweet water sources other than seasonal rain, and therefore, Gulhi was reliant on water imports.
In 2013 a joint venture between Aquiva Foundation, a charity organisation, and STELCO, the state owned Maldivian Electricity Company, aimed at developing a desalination water plant in Gulhi which was both sustainable and cost-effective. Now, Aquaver, a company based in Netherlands, has commissioned in Gulhi the world’s first commercial plant based on membrane distillation, in collaboration with its local representative Static. The water plant makes use of the waste-heat produced by the existing diesel generators, which provide electricity to the island, to power the water purification process. The water produced through this new technology will be used to reliably provide water for drinking, cooking and hygienic purposes.
The plant is based on an Aquaver Membrane Distillation System, and makes use of the waste heat of the local power generator to produce up to 10.000 litres of drinking water per day. Membrane distillation is a novel breakthrough technology which combines membrane separation and distillation, resulting in pure water production from seawater using low-grade heat. These systems have been developed in collaboration with Memsys, which invented and delivers the processing modules, and Philips Innovation Services. The distillate produced by the plant is mineralized using local coral sand for a good Maldivian taste. It is distributed under the brand "AQUIVA fushi" - fushi standing for the pure island taste created by coral sand in the mineralization process. The water is only available in reusable containers in order to avoid the pollution of the pristine Maldivian nature through the plastic waste of one-way bottles.