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KIMM to Tap into Renewable Energy and Water Industries of Middle East (January 17)

- Set up 1000 ton HCPVT seawater desalination plant in Middle East

- Open new doors for emerging industries of renewable energy through investing 25.3bn won by 2023

Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials (KIMM) is collaborating with private companies and domestic universities to tap into both the seawater desalination facility and water industry of the Middle East region.

By 2023, KIMM plans to provide electricity and heat using High Concentration Photovoltaic Thermal system (HCPVT), as to develop new and renewable energy system that can operate various desalination facilities.

o Under photovoltaic system, electricity and heat can be generated by using both solar light and heat. The efficiency of existing solar power generation (PV·Photo-Voltaic) is currently 18% but with Concentrated Photo-Voltaic Thermal system (CPV), over 70% of power conversion efficiency can be created.

The research team generates heat and electricity by using HCPVT and is envisioning an integrated system that each supplies HCPVT to Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination facility using electric energy and Membrane Distillation (MD) desalination facility using thermal energy.

o Currently, RO and MD methods are mostly used for seawater desalination. RO methodology applies high pressure to seawater using pump by supplying electricity and it then passes through reverse osmotic membrane to separate RO rejected seawater from fresh water. MD methodology gets freshwater by evaporating seawater with thermal energy.

o If an integrated system can be designed and established, strengths of each desalination method can create synergies. As energy efficiency of photovoltaic thermal power generation per unit area is higher than solar photovoltaics (PV), unit area can be decreased by half in maximum, compared to existing seawater desalination facility which integrates solar photovoltaics (PV) with RO desalination facility.

o In addition, it is eco-friendly as it can reduce rejected seawater generated without fail in the process of desalination. In case of integrating RO and MD methods and operating them at the same time, rejected seawater from RO desalination facility can be purified again by using MD facility.

The research team plans to develop technologies which can precisely track the location of the sun for the purpose of HCPTV. As CPV system uses direct solar radiation that reaches the ground directly, it is essential to have technologies enabling solar tracking and penal control.

Also, a customized design platform will be developed to reflect optimally designed technologies for convergence of various desalination technologies and characteristics of region that needs such technologies.

The research team aims to establish 10ton pilot plant in Korea by 2020 and 1000ton seawater desalination facility in Middle East countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia by 2023.

Principal researcher Park Chang Dae said “it is a very important agenda for the international community to secure alternative water resources in response to global water scarcity and utilize new and renewable energies for eco-friendly production. We will strive to develop technologies that can provide substantial help to sites having difficulty due to water scarcity.”

Meanwhile, this research project is carried out as part of energy technology policy development program of Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) and a workshop where the first project was launched was held on December 19 of 2018. To this end, KIMM and D-Eco Energy which are organizers as well as research institutes including LG Chemical, CJK Alliance, Innotems, Prosave, Kyung Hee University, Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology and Kookmin University, private companies and universities work together.

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