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IPER system reduces energy demands of desalination pumping

GE has introduced an Integrated Pump and Energy Recovery (IPER) system that overcomes a technical obstacle for larger desalination facilities by reducing the energy demands associated with pumping water by at least 10 percent.

GE announced its breakthrough IPER solution during the 2012 Singapore International Water Week in Singapore.

Considerable progress has been made in membrane and energy recovery device improvements, lowering the energy requirement of seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plants over the past 10 years.

Until now, energy efficient positive displacement (PD) pumps have been able to achieve energy savings in smaller desalination operations. Meanwhile, modest improvements to large, conventional centrifugal pumps have been able to deliver only incremental energy savings.

With IPER, GE is offering a new positive displacement pump system that will lower energy requirements for large desalination plants.

Lower-capacity desalination plants have often utilised PD pumps because of their high efficiency and availability. These small but efficient pumps are based on the use of a fixed geometry and either rotating axial pistons or crank-driven pistons to pressurize water in the chambers.

As the size and pumping capacity of these chambers increase, these smaller PD pumps face mechanical challenges. As a result, previous larger PD pumps have either featured a larger crankshaft or high crankshaft speeds to overcome these mechanical challenges.

But due to the larger size and operating speeds, these solutions have led to significant vibration and maintenance issues.

IPER solves these problems by eliminating the crankshaft and replacing it with a hydraulic drive system for both functions. This hydraulic drive powers three double acting pistons in the water displacement unit and does this at very slow cycle speeds as compared to traditional PD pumps.

These innovations allow larger SWRO systems that today use less efficient centrifugal pumps to incorporate IPER positive displacement pumps in the future.

Since positive displacement pumps are typically used on systems with a capacity of less than 1,000 m3/day, this offers opportunities for any plant of 1,000 m3/day or larger to achieve energy savings.

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