In wet-crude handling facilities, a desalting system requires wash water to reduce salt content of crude before shipping it to a stabilization plant. Produced water could be treated and used as wash water instead of consuming groundwater resources. Due to the high produced water salinity, this treatment could be done via thermal desalination method, such as humidification-dehumidification (HDH) distillation process.

One heat source available for thermal desalination is solar energy. Concentrated solar parabolic trough technology uses a heat transfer fluid to absorbe solar energy resource and provide heat to process fluids via a heat exchanger. The technology can be applied to heat produced water to the desired temperature at the HDH inlet. In this study, the technical feasibility of using concentrated solar parabolic trough heating for HDH process with application in produced oilfield water in Saudi Arabia is conducted. Concentrated solar parabolic trough performance is modelled and simulated via a public released renewable energy software. Also, technical considerations for process potential application are elaborated upon.

The results presented show the capability and overall scheme blocks in which concentrated solar parabolic trough contributes towards achieving heat requirements to HDH desalination process.

The approach studied in this paper tackles both energy and water conservation. It provides an overview on the use of alternative energy source for heat transfer fluid in an oilfield produced water desalination process with the potential to displace diesel or associated gas consumption. At the same time, the produced water treatment process displaces groundwater consumption.

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