This work presents the concept development, implementation and first practical demonstration of a new pressure intensifier for energy recovery in small-scale seawater reverse osmosis systems, and the simplified system configuration it requires. The new concept has great potential to reduce the specific energy consumption of small-scale seawater reverse osmosis systems. A mathematical analysis to study pressure intensifiers for energy recovery in reverse osmosis applications was developed. The analysis was used in the design and modelling of the energy recovery device. A first prototype was built and subsequently demonstrated in a system desalinating seawater over a wide range of electrical input power stretching between 286 and 1196 W, producing up to 286 L/h of freshwater with specific energy consumptions in the range of 3.5 to 4.5 kWh/m^3. The flat specific energy characteristic makes the device attractive for renewable-energy-powered systems without energy storage. The prototype implementation was realised through modifying a Clark pump, but the new concept is fundamentally different. The new device recovers energy from the concentrate stream, which it then uses to suck in and pressurise seawater, relying purely on its piston area ratio, and thus eliminating the need for a low-pressure feed pump.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.