Desalination and Water Treatment

Water treatment and desalination from Veolia provides municipalities and industry with potable and process water from brackish water and seawater

  • Municipalities: Veolia has the capacity and resources to construct large-scale, permanent desalination plants. The quality of these plants is evidenced by Veolia’s established plants in the Eastern and Western Cape where seawater is treated to international potable standards.
  • Industry: Desalination processes and treatment are delivered in the form of small scale package water treatment plants (water techno packages). These desalination package plants are also used by some municipalities for residents not connected to the municipal pipeline infrastructure. 

Internationally, Veolia was distinguished at the Global Water Awards 2017 for 2 desalination plants:

Seawater desalination

Veolia offers full scale plants and packaged
plants to desalinate seawater.
For seawater desalination, either distillation or membrane treatment is used.
thermal desalination plant contributes to purification of water through
multiple effect distillation water treatment.

Distillation Process

Multiple Effect Distillation (MED) technology, a low temperature sea water distillation process, is used to evaporate seawater in numerous stages at 70° C or lower. Up to 14 stages can be used to achieve the desired outcome.

skid for reverse osmosis desalination – also called membrane treatment.

Membrane Treatment

Membrane treatment, involves pre-treatment that prevents fouling and scaling using Veolia’s water technologies. These include Actiflo® for clarification, Multiflo™ for enhanced clarification and lamella settling. Spidflo™ is used for flotation and Filtraflo™ for gravitational flow.Reverse osmosis via membrane filtration follows.

Highly pressurised filtration is made through semi-permeable osmotic membranes to reach an osmotic equilibrium, suitable for high and low salinity concentration. The technology used for this process is called Sirion™, a reverse osmosis system developed for pure water production, seawater desalination and water reuse applications. These processes are followed by degassing to ensure a pH adjustment with CO² stripping, which is required for some industrial projects.

Approximately 15% of the world’s desalination plant capacity was designed and constructed by Veolia internationally.

Brackish water desalination

water desalination plant that can also be used for industrial water treatment
with various desalination technologies

Brackish water desalination solutions from Veolia transform Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) and other less toxic inland water streams with high levels of total dissolved salts into high grade potable water.

There are two processes to treat brackish water: membrane processes and thermal processes, both of which can be done with large scale permanent water treatment plants and containerised package plants.

Containerised desalination plant for inland brackish
Containerised desalination plant for inland brackish water

Containerised Potable Water Treatment Plants from Veolia can be tailored to desalinate both seawater and brackish water 

Desalination Technologies

Reverse osmosis (RO) and nanofiltration achieve desalination via membranes.

Multi effect distillation, evaporation and crystallisation are thermal processes to achieve desalinated water.

These technologies are designed to treat industrial or municipal wastewater, seawater, brackish groundwater, surface or potable water.

Another 2 technological processes that are effectively used for desalinating water is multi-stage flash (MSF) and hybrid systems using both thermal and RO.

Selection of the most appropriate solution is determined by the feed water source and the required quality of the treated water.

Membrane Solutions

Less energy intensive than thermal processes, this process is typically for water with a lower dissolved salt content and includes reverse osmosis and nanofiltration.

Membrane separation processes are used for:

  • Seawater desalination
  • Process and potable water production
  • Boiler feedwater and pharmaceutical water polishing and demineralisation
  • Process and municipal effluent rehabilitation and recycling
  • As part of a ZLD process

Thermal Solutions

Ideally used for water with high dissolved salt content where the pressure needed for a membrane system to achieve equivalent results would be too much. This process reduces energy costs as it uses a low-cost energy source.

Multiple effect desalination MED units (low temperature seawater evaporator) enable multiple effect distillation, of which there are two:

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

Chemicals For Desalination

Chemicals for desalination water treatment from Veolia South Africa comprise the Hydrex™ 4000 series, one in Veolia’s range of Hydrex™ chemicals. These specific chemicals for desalination methods optimises membrane processes. Hydrex™ 4000 protects membrane elements by keeping them free of scale and bacteria growth, simultaneously avoiding external elemental degradation through specially formulated chemicals.

Developed for reverse osmosis, nanofiltration and ultrafiltration treatment plants, water treatment chemicals from Veolia South Africa have international membrane suppliers’ approval and are used across Africa.

Desalination and water purification in the mining industry

A desalination plant using desalination
technologies, like AMDRO™, for example, tailored for the mining industry.

Veolia’s AMDRO™ technology, a patented technology for desalinating acidic wastewater with high concentrations of metals and calcium salts, was a result of this collaboration.

AMDRO™ combines Veolia’s ACTIFLO® high rate clarification process with filtration, RO and ion exchange to generate high-quality effluent with minimal pre-treatment requirements. This technology is applicable for the phosphate, coal mining and steel industries, as well as general industry for acidic industrial wastewater desalination.

Veolia partners with industry experts to formulate the ideal water treatment solution for a particular industry.

In the mining sector, exploration, engineering and mining companies’ expert opinions are brought into the equation when developing solutions for to treat mine water.

Let us help you build a containerised desalination plant for your requirements. Send us an enquiry TODAY.

Southern African desalination case studies

Small scale desalination plants

Ndlambe Municipality (Cannon Rocks and Boknes), Eastern Cape, produces produce 750 m³ of SANS 241-compliant potable water per day.

Mauritius holiday resort comprises the development of two reverse osmosis desalination plants producing a combined 0.125 mega litres of treated water each day.

Desalination plants

A turnkey desalination plant that supplies 10 ML of potable water to the Mossel Bay Municipality, and 5 ML of process water to Petro SA.

A turnkey seawater desalination plant in Plettenberg Bay producing 2 ML of potable water per day.

A turnkey seawater desalination plant that produces 2 ML of potable water per day for Knysna municipality.

A 1,7 ML per day seawater desalination plant in Lamberts Bay that helps alleviate pressure on the region's water system.

An RO desalination plant at Transnet’s iron ore terminal in Saldanha.

To speak to a Veolia expert on desalination solutions, contact us today!

Veolia ensures all your water-related infrastructure and systems are
optimised for maximum performance and compliance

Tailored Operations & Maintenance

Our extensive technical and project management capabilities and aftersales O&M assure our clients of improved operation and minimum lifecycle costs. Tailored O&M contracts from Veolia South Africa ensure all your water-related infrastructure and systems are optimised for maximum performance and compliance, so you can focus on your core business.

South Africa’s Ambitions for Africa
project creates low-footprint water treatment solutions

Veolia’s Ambitions For Africa

Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in Africa requires new strategies for water treatment and infrastructure. Veolia South Africa’s Ambitions for Africa project aims to anchor Veolia in Africa through local partnerships, community engagement and tailor-made solutions that meet the continent’s evolving needs for efficient, robust, low-footprint water treatment solutions.


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