Reverse osmosis

GE Water & Process Technologies is to design and construct a $220 million reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant in South Africa.

GE Water & Process Technologies is to design and construct a reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant in South Africa which will provide 70,000 m3/day of fresh water.

The plant will also recover ultra-pure salt from the brine for the production of chlorine, caustic soda, and hydrochloric acid for use in a new chlorine refinery in the Coega Industrial Zone, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. This new 600 tonnes-per-day refinery will be owned and operated by Strait Chemicals and will meet the growing global demand for chlor-alkali and its derivatives.

‘GE’s seawater desalination and thermal evaporation technologies will create around 630,000 tonnes of 99.9% pure salt annually,’ said Earl Jones, General Manager, Structured Projects for GE Water & Process Technologies. ‘Reclaiming salt from the desalination brine stream not only improves the overall economics of the refinery project, but also removes logistical issues by ensuring a reliable and locally available supply of high grade salt for use in the refining of chlorine.’

Pure water produced by the desalination process, which in this case is considered a by-product, will supply up to 70,000 m3/day of potable water to about 150,000 local inhabitants of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality for drinking and local municipal use.

Construction of the refinery is expected to take between 18 and 24 months with the completed plant being officially commissioned towards the end of 2009. It is expected around 600 local jobs will be created during the construction phase and once operational over 250 people will be employed. The refinery will be constructed on an initial 30 hectares site with an additional 5-hectares for the desalination plant.