New Book: Microbial Desalination Cells for Low Energy Drinking Water

Sergio Salinas, Maria Kennedy, and Ángeles Mendoza from IHE Delft together with partners from Aqualia (Spain), Imdea Water (Spain), and Leitat (Spain) have published Microbial Desalination Cells for Low Energy Drinking Water (IWA Publishing, London).

The world´s largest demonstrator of a revolutionary energy system in desalination for drinking water production is in operation. MIDES uses Microbial Desalination Cells (MDC) in a pre-treatment step for reverse osmosis (RO), for simultaneous saline stream desalination and wastewater treatment.

MDCs are based on bio-electro-chemical technology, in which biological wastewater treatment can be coupled to the desalination of a saline stream using ion exchange membranes without external energy input. MDCs simultaneously treat wastewater and perform desalination using the energy contained in the wastewater. In fact, an MDC can produce around 1.8 kWh of bioelectricity from the energy contained in 1 m3 of wastewater. Compared to traditional RO, more than 3 kWh/m3 of electrical energy is saved. With this novel technology, two low-quality water streams (saline stream, wastewater) are transformed into two high-quality streams (desalinated water, treated wastewater) suitable for further uses.

An exhaustive scaling-up process was carried out in which all MIDES partners worked together on nanostructured electrodes, antifouling membranes, electrochemical reactor design and optimization, pre-treatment, life cycle assessment, microbial electrochemistry and physiology expertise, and process engineering and control. The roadmap of the lab-MDC upscaling goes through the assembly of a pre-pilot MDC, towards the development of the demonstrator of the MDC technology (patented). Nominal desalination rate between 4-11 Lm-2h-1 is reached with a current efficiency of 40 %. After the scalability success, two MDC pilot plants were designed and constructed consisting of one stack of 15 MDC pilot units with a 0.4 m2 electrode area per unit.

This book presents the information generated throughout the EU funded MIDES project and includes the latest developments related to desalination of sea water and brackish water by applying microbial desalination cells.

The electronic version of the book (PDF format) is open access under the CC BY OA license. Link to download:

The paperback copy of the book can be ordered from the IWA Publisher:

New book: Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination: Assessment and Pre-Treatment of Fouling and Scaling

Sergio Salinas, Jan Schippers and Maria Kennedy from IHE Delft (Netherlands), Gary L. Amy from Clemson University (USA) and In S. Kim from GIST (South Korea) have published the first edition of Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination: Assessment and Pre-treatment of Fouling and Scaling (IWA Publishing, London).

Desalination as a method to provide clean drinking water has become vital – particularly in a context where drought, water scarcity and rapid quality decrease of water bodies have become an undeniable reality. After more than half a century of membrane-based desalination, fouling and scaling are still a dominant challenge. In membrane technologies, in particular, fouling and scaling are a major issue with respect to design, operation, reliability of the technologies and cost.

This textbook covers theory and practice and is intended for designers, operators, consultants, suppliers and students. Principles of ultra- and nanofiltration and reverse osmosis (RO) are discussed, enabling the reader to understand the link between design, operation and fouling and scaling. Fouling (particulate, organic -including algal bloom events, inorganic, and biofouling) and scaling are treated in detail, including parameters to determine fouling and scaling potential of feed waters. Principles of conventional and advanced pre-treatment processes are highlighted and their effect on preventing fouling and scaling. In addition, the process design of RO systems and the recent advances in seawater RO and emerging membrane-based processes for seawater desalination are presented.

The electronic version of the book (PDF format) is open access under the CC BY-NC-ND license. Link to download:

The hardback copy of the book (available from 15 May) can be ordered from IWA Publishing:

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PhD Defense of Motasem Abushaban

On December 3 at 15:00 at the Aula of the TU Delft, Mr. Motasem Abushaban succesfully defended his PhD dissertation entitled “Assessing bacterial growth potential in seawater reverse osmosis pretreatment”.

The PhD Examination Committee
Signing the PhD diploma by the rector of IHE Delft, rector representative of the TU Delft, the promotor, co-promotor, and the beadle.
Dr. Salinas reading the laudatio

Desalination School in Denia

The Desalination School was organized by IHE Delft and Aqualia. 65 participants from academia, industry, and water utilities participated of the event.

More info:

The event was sponsored by the EU-H2020 MIDES project.

Enjoying the catamaran ride on the Mediterranean sea
Dr. Sergio Salinas, IHE Delft
Prof. Enrico Drioli, ITM-CNR
Prof. Joao Crespo, University of Nova Lisboa
Prof. Julian Blanco, Solar Platform of Almeria
Dr. Juan Manuel Ortiz, IMDEA Water
Dr. Victor Monsalvo, Aqualia

Participation at IDA’s Desalination World Congress 2019

Five research studies were presented at the biennial Desalination World Congress in Dubai, October 2019.

The IHE’s desalination group was represented by:

  • Dr. Sergio Salinas
  • Dr. Nirajan Dhakal
  • Motasem Abushaban, MSc
  • Mohanad Abunada, MSc
Group photo with IHE alumni (fltr): Dr. Sergio Salinas, Dr. Tarek Waly, Mohanad Abunada, Dr. Nirajan Dhakal, Dr. Victor Yangali, Motasem Abushaban