Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Applied Water Science






48 (1-15)


A seawater reverse osmosis (RO) plant layout based on multistage RO with stages located at different elevations above sea level is described. The plant uses the weight of a seawater column from pumped storage as head pressure for RO (gravity-driven multistage RO) or to supplement high-pressure pumps used in RO (gravity-assisted multistage RO). The use of gravitational force reduces the specific energy for RO compared to using high-pressure pumps. By locating the RO stages at different elevations based on demand sites, the total specific energy consumption for RO and permeate transport to different elevations above sea level is reduced from that for locating the RO process entirely at sea level followed by lifting the desalinated water. A final RO stage at sea level uses seawater pressurized by energy recovery from the residual energy of the brine generated from the preceding RO stage. Examples of the plant layout that do not include pump inefficiency and head losses in pipes are described for South Sinai, Egypt, which is a mountainous region that suffers from water scarcity. A gravity-driven multistage RO with a storage tank at 660 m above sea level is considered. For five RO stages located 316–57 m above sea level with 10% recovery at each stage, the specific energy is ~ 32% lower than that for a plant located at sea level operating at the minimum specific energy followed by lifting the same quantity of desalinated water to the elevations of the distributed RO stages. For two stages located at 222 and 57 m above sea level with 30 and 20% recovery, respectively, the reduction in specific energy is ~ 27%. For gravity-assisted five-stage RO with the first stage at 260 m above sea level, while the last stage is at sea level with 10% recovery at each stage the reduction in specific energy is ~ 32%. The proposed RO plant layouts can be adapted to other regions with comparable topography.


© 2023 Hani Elsayed-Ali

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Data Availability

Article States: The data used are plotted in the figures shown in the main papers.

Original Publication Citation

Elsayed-Ali, H. E. (2023). Elevation-distributed multistage reverse osmosis desalination with seawater pumped storage. Applied Water Science, 13(2), 1-15, Article 48.


0000-0002-1329-5018 (Elsayed-Ali)