Brackish water desalination by reverse osmosis membranes is energy-driven process. With the purpose of improving the energy performance of such unit a full-scale BWRO desalination plant located in Canary Island (Spain) has been working under intermittent operating conditions for 14 years was assessed with conventional and enhanced (exogenous and endogenous/avoidable and unavoidable exergy destructions) exergy analysis. The exergies across the major components of the plant are calculated. The conventional exergy analysis reveals that, largest irreversibilities were identified in the RO system (membrane modules), the high pressure pump and the feed pump which amounts to about 64.28%, 40.84% and 38.48% respectively. Results of advanced exergy analyses shows that 70.61%, 92.94% and 7.83% of the total exergy destruction in the high pressure pump, feed pump and the RO system respectively are avoidable. Moreover, the highest endogenous avoidable exergy destruction rate was determined owing to the feed and high pressure pumps. Using these findings, instructions were proposed to ensure optimal effectiveness of the RO system and to improve the exergy destruction in the pumps currently in use. • Performing an enhanced exergy analysis for a full-scale BWRO desalination plant • Analyzing the performance of main plant components exergetically • Dividing irreversibilities into exogenous and endogenous/avoidable and unavoidable • Determining inefficiencies within the desalination plant for planning future improvements

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