Multiple Effect Distillation (MED)

Thermische ontzitling van zeewater

Processes for Sea Water Desalination

ENTROPIE can offer sea water desalination systems based on either of the leading technologies depending on fresh water need


ENTROPIE is the world leading specialist in sea water desalination through low temperature distillation processes such as :

  • Multiple Effect Distillation (MED)
  • Multiple Effect Distillation with Thermal Vapour Compression (MED-TVC)
  • Multiple Effect Distillation with Mechanical Vapour Compression (MED-MVC)

A Multi Effect Desalination MED unit is an evaporator where sea water is evaporated in one or more ( up to 14 ) evaporation stages at low temperature (< 70°C ) in order to produce clean distillate water.

MED process is designed to produce distilled water with steam or waste heat from power production or chemical processes, and/or to produce potable water.


Standard MED Process Scheme

  • This Scheme represents a Multiple Effect Distillation unit consisting of 3 cells
  • In the last cell the produced steam is condensed on a conventional shell and tubes heat exchanger (distillate condenser) cooled by sea water.
  • At the outlet of the condenser, part of the warmed sea water is used as make-up of the unit, and part rejected to the sea. Brine and distillate are collected from cell to cell till the last one from where they are extracted by centrifugal pumps
  • The thermal efficiency of a unit is quantified by the Gain Output Ratio (GOR) defined as the quantity of distillate produced per unit of heating steam used


The technology 

An MED evaporator consists of several consecutive cells (or effects) maintained at decreasing levels of pressure (and temperature) from the first (hot) cell to the last one (cold). Each cell mainly consists of a horizontal tubes bundle. The top of the bundle is sprayed with the sea water make-up that then flows down from tube to tube by gravity.

Heating steam is introduced inside the tubes. Since tubes are cooled externally by make-up flow, steam condenses into distillate (fresh water) inside the tubes. At the same time sea water warms up and partly evaporates by recovering the condensation heat (latent heat). Due to evaporation sea water slightly concentrates when flowing down the bundle and gives brine at the bottom of the cell. The vapour raised by sea water evaporation is at a lower temperature than heating steam. However it can still be used as heating media for the next effect where the process is repeated. The decreasing pressure from one cell to the next one allows brine and distillate to be drawn to the next cell where they will flash and release additional amounts of vapour at the lower pressure. This additional vapour will condense into distillate inside the next cell.

This process is repeated in a series of effect (Multiple Effect Distillation) (see sketch with 3 effects). In the last cell, the produced steam condenses on a conventional shell and tubes heat exchanger. This exchanger, called "distillate condenser" is cooled by sea water. At the outlet of this condenser, part of the warmed sea water is used as make-up of the unit, the other part is rejected to the sea. Brine and distillate are collected from cell to cell till the last one from where they are extracted by centrifugal pumps.

The thermal efficiency of such evaporator can be quantified as the number of kilos of distillate produced per one kilo of steam introduced in the system. Such number is called the Gain Output Ratio (GOR).


The advantages


  • Very low electrical consumption (less than 1.0 kWh/m3) compared to other thermal processes such as Multi Stage Flash (MSF) or membrane processes (Reverse Osmosis)
  • Operate at low temperature (< 70°C) and at low concentration (< 1.5) to avoid corrosion and scaling
  • Produce steadily high purity distillate
  • Do not need complex pre-treatment of sea water and are tolerant to variations of sea water conditions
  • Are highly reliable and simple to operate
  • Reduce civil works cost thanks to reduced footprint
  • Are simple to install with packaged units mounted on skids and delivered ready for use, after easy installation
  • Have a low maintenance cost (no rotating parts except low pressure pumps)
  • Operate 24 hours a day with minimum supervision
  • Ideal for coupling with power plants, steam can be used efficiently at pressure as low as 0.35 bar abs or less
  • Can be adapted to any heat source including hot water
  • Allow very high thermal efficiencies and savings in fuel costs
  • Range up to 15 MIGD (68 000 m3/day) per unit

Product range