Sustainable Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination as Green Desalination in the 21st Century

Document Type : Review Paper


Toray Industries, Inc.


Seawater reverse osmosis desalination (SWRO) requires less energy compared with the distillation method and thus is an important technology except Middle Eastern countries where
energy costs are higher. Recently, even Middle Eastern countries where the distillation method is still a major technology, have begun adopting the RO method in new desalination
plants in line with government policy and the trend is for the development of larger (in excess of half mega-ton per day or mega-ton per day size) so-called “Mega-SWRO” plants.
With these trends in the global market, the requirements of sustainable SWRO desalination as green desalination for the 21st century are summarized under three subjects: 1) Energy
Renewable energy, 2) Seawater RO system: Advanced membrane and membrane system, 3) Reduction of marine pollution: Green desalination. The “Mega-ton Water System” project
has been conducted to solve issues related to subjects 2) and 3) as Japanese national project.
a. By combining a low pressure SWRO membrane and a low pressure two-stage high recovery SWRO system, 20% energy reduction was possible. And 30% energy saving in total
was also possible as the SWRO-PRO hybrid system.
b. For low environmental impact as green desalination, less chemical and less chemical cleaning for reliable operation have been established.
c. Low-cost renewable energy, particularly solar energy, is now available to solve issues related to subject 1. By combining these sophisticated technologies, the cost of seawater
desalination will be $ 0.50/ m3/day or less.

Graphical Abstract

Sustainable Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination as Green Desalination in the 21st Century


Volume 6, Issue 1
Membrane Science and Research: A Tribute to Professor Takeshi Matsuura
January 2020
Pages 20-29
  • Receive Date: 04 July 2019
  • Revise Date: 01 October 2019
  • Accept Date: 02 October 2019