Desalination of seawater by spray freezing in a natural draft tower

Yang Liu, Tingzhen Ming, Yongjia Wu, Renaud de Richter, Yueping Fang, Nan Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
187 Downloads (Pure)


The freeze-melting process can be a viable method for the purposes of desalination because of its low energy consumption, ignorable corrosion issues, and without huge pressure or membrane replacement work. Large contact area for heat and mass transfer per unit mass of water between the water and air and low heat resistance results in higher energy efficiency during spray freezing desalination process compared to other freezing desalination methods. A 200 m high desalination tower was proposed in this paper that could generate 27.7 kg/s fresh water in the form of water droplets with 2 mm diameter at an atmospheric temperature of −26°C. This research has founded that the natural convective airflow induced by the heat released by the warm water in the freezing process could generate through the wind turbine mounted in this system approximately one-third of the energy consumed by the water pump of the system. This free energy has never been studied in previous research. The power consumption required to produce 1 m3 fresh water in this system is approximately 1.07 kWh. Compared to traditional desalination methods, the power consumption of our new spray freezing desalination system is much lower than previous systems with the same mass flow rate of fresh water. Only 375.4 kJ cold energy to produce one-kilogram fresh water. Thus, this spray freezing desalination system could be employed in desalination industry if free cold energy (e.g. from the cold atmosphere or the regasification process of LNG) and seawater resources are available.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114700
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Early online date15 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Desalination. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Desalination, 496:1 (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.desal.2020.114700

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51778511), the Hubei Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 2018CFA029), the Key Project of ESI Discipline Development of Wuhan University of Technology (WUT Grant No. 2017001), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (WUT Grant No. 2019IVB082), and the Scientific Research Foundation of Wuhan University of Technology (No. 40120237).


  • Compressible airflow
  • Natural draft tower
  • Seawater desalination
  • Spray freezing
  • Water droplet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Desalination of seawater by spray freezing in a natural draft tower'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this