Desalination, Water Re-use, and Halophyte Cultivation in Salinized Regions: A Highly Productive Groundwater Treatment System

Kiho Park, Anurag Mudgal, Varsha Mudgal, Moshe Sagi, Dominic Standing, Philip A. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Groundwater salinization is a problem affecting access to water in many world regions. Though desalination by conventional reverse osmosis (RO) can upgrade groundwater quality for drinking, its disadvantages include unmanaged brine discharge and accelerated groundwater depletion. Here, we propose a new approach combining RO, forward osmosis (FO), and halophyte cultivation, in which FO optimally adjusts the concentration of the RO reject brine for irrigation of Salicornia or Sarcocornia. The FO also re-uses wastewater, thus, reducing groundwater extraction and the wastewater effluent volume. To suit different groundwater salinities in the range 1-8 g/L, three practical designs are proposed and analyzed. Results include specific groundwater consumption (SGC), specific energy consumption (SEC), wastewater volume reduction, peak RO pressure, permeate water quality, efficiency of water resource utilization, and halophyte yield. Compared to conventional brackish water RO, the results show superior performance in almost all aspects. For example, SGC is reduced from 1.25 to 0.9 m3 per m3 of drinking water output and SEC is reduced from 0.79 to 0.70 kW h/m3 by a FO-RO-FO system treating groundwater of salinity 8 g/L. This system can produce 1.1 m3 of high-quality drinking water and up to 4.9 kg of edible halophyte per m3 of groundwater withdrawn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11863-11875
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number32
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2023


  • batch reverse osmosis
  • forward osmosis
  • groundwater
  • halophyte cultivation
  • process modelling
  • zero liquid discharge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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