Analysis of Brackish Water Desalination for Municipal Uses: Case Studies on Challenges and Opportunities

Xuesong Xu, J. Ness, Ariel Miara, Kurban Sitterley, Michael Talmadge, Barbara O'Neill, Katie Coughlin, Sertac Akar, E. M. N. Edirisooriya, Parthiv Kurup, Nalini Rao, Jordan Macknick, Jennifer Stokes-Draut, Pei Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus Citations


Brackish water is a widely available, nontraditional water resource that can augment limited freshwater supplies. Although brackish water desalination has been continuously implemented in the United States and worldwide, it is necessary to reduce further its energy consumption, costs, and environmental impacts. This study conducted technoeconomic analyses to evaluate the current desalination and brine management technologies, focusing on the key factors and opportunities for sustainable brackish water desalination for municipal uses. Three case studies were selected as baseline representative of different geographic and operational conditions, including water quality, plant size, pretreatment, desalination, and concentrate management. The technoeconomic analyses and model simulations identified challenges, opportunities, and research priorities to achieve specific pathways for enhanced brackish water desalination regarding levelized costs of water, electricity intensity, water recovery, zero liquid discharge, and brine valorization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)306-322
Number of pages17
JournalACS ES and T Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-7A40-81413


  • brackish water
  • brine management
  • desalination
  • municipal uses
  • technoeconomic assessment


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