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Nuclear desalination

For more than two decades, the support for seawater desalination using nuclear energy (in short, called nuclear desalination) has been repeatedly stressed at the General Conference and supported by many Member States. Currently, with over than 200 reactor-years of operating experience gained worldwide especially in Japan, India, and Kazakhstan, nuclear desalination has been demonstrated and eyed as a viable option to meet the growing demand for potable water and provide hope to areas with acute water shortages in many arid and semi-arid zones.

In support of Member States to assess nuclear desalination as an option, the IAEA has developed and released the Desalination Economic Evaluation Program DEEP and the DEsalination Thermodynamic Optimization Programme DE-TOP programs. These two programmes can be used to perform economic, thermodynamic, and optimization analyses of different power resources coupled to various desalination processes. The IAEA has also published several technical reports to highlight technical information on aspects of optimum coupling including some safety considerations, environmental impact assessment of nuclear desalination, and potential new technologies for seawater desalination using nuclear energy. In addition, the IAEA has developed and released the Nuclear Desalination Toolkit which provides access to all IAEA activities related to nuclear desalination including links to publications and software download.

Desalination Economic Evaluation Program (DEEP)

Desalination Economic Evaluation Programme (DEEP)

The Desalination Economic Evaluation Program DEEP is software, available for free download, developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This tool can be used for performance and cost evaluation of various power and seawater desalination co-generation configurations. The latest version DEEP 5.1 which was released in late 2014, adds new features that enhance the financial economic analysis of nuclear desalination plants and already been supported by a new modern user friendly interface.

The highlights of DEEP 5.1 are:

  • Overall visual improvement for easier navigation between the input, analysis and the results

  • Detailed cash flow analysis of dual purpose desalination plant, showing a detailed overview of the project financing. This analysis is appropriate for use in 'bankable' feasibility studies

  • Scenario manager screen, for comparing scenarios and importing/exporting to files.

  • All features introduced in previous versions, such as sensitivity analysis and case comparison have been reworked and optimized for faster and easier access. The default parameters have been also updated to reflect generic cases according to latest developments.

DEEP is suitable for comparison analysis among different plant types (steam, gas, combined cycle and heat only plants), different fuels (nuclear, oil, coal) and various desalination options including Multi-Effect Distillation (MED), Multi-Stage Flash (MSF), Reverse Osmosis (RO) and hybrid options. It includes formulation of different alternatives such as different turbines configurations, backup heat, intermediate loop, water transport costs and carbon tax.

Desalination Thermodynamic Optimization Program (DE-TOP)

DE-TOP has been developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency as a tool for the thermodynamic analysis and optimization of nuclear cogeneration systems (currently with options for nuclear desalination and district heating applications). DE-TOP can be used to models the steam power cycle (Rankine cycle) of different water cooled reactors or fossil plants, and the coupling with any other non-electrical application.

With an intuitive graphical user interface and flexible system configuration, the user can select different coupling arrangements between power plant and non-electric application (single steam extraction, multiple steam extraction, backpressure operation, etc.). DE-TOP executes thermodynamics energy and exergy analyses of the cogeneration system and produces detailed reports for plant performance at different cogeneration modes. The DE-TOP tool is under continuous development. Currently, DE-TOP 2.0 Beta version is available to download.

The main features of DE-TOP 2.0 Beta are:

  • Detailed base-load calculation of mass and energy flows in the power plant secondary cycle

  • Robust model of water/steam thermodynamic properties (T, P, enthalpy, exergy, etc.) based on the IAPWS-IF97 industrial formulation

  • Fully customizable parameters for water cooled reactors and Fossil steam power plants to fit any user defined case. As well as several predefined cases (PWR, BWR, SMRs, etc.)

  • Simulation operation with of non-electric applications as: Desalination, District Heating or Process Heat

  • DE-TOP has a friendly user interface that simplify its use and allows a better understanding of the system

  • Report and analysis of plant performance in single electricity production and cogeneration modes

As DE-TOP is still under continuous development, the current available version is released as a beta-version.

Download DE-TOP software

User's Manual

IAEA Toolkit on Nuclear Desalination

This toolkit has been developed by the Agency to facilitate easy finding of any of the Agency's activities on seawater desalination using nuclear power, It can be freely download from the IAEA web site.

Download (updated 2020)

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