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Sustainability assessment framework for integrated desalination and resource recovery: a participatory approach
  • +2
  • Rodoula Ktori,
  • Mar Palmeros Parada,
  • Marcos Rodriguez-Pascual,
  • Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht,
  • Dimitrios Xevgeno
Rodoula Ktori
Delft University of Technology

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Mar Palmeros Parada
Delft University of Technology
Marcos Rodriguez-Pascual
Delft University of Technology
Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht
Delft University of Technology
Dimitrios Xevgeno
Delft University of Technology


Valuable and rare materials are found in seawater brine that are often discarded as waste during the desalination process. Treatment of seawater brine increasingly focuses on resource recovery instead of disposal minimization due to economic and environmental opportunities. The transition to resource recovery requires considering societal benefits and costs, such as water availability and energy cost. This study aims to synthesize the findings and key messages from literature and experts, including the successes and failures of Sustainability Assessments (SA), to develop a comprehensive and transparent framework to design and assess for integrated desalination and resource recovery. Building on a critical review of the state of sustainability assessment of desalination and/or brine treatment systems, we propose a sustainability assessment framework for early stage planning. Specifically, this work proposes a unique approach for SA in the desalination sector by integrating participatory Multi-criteria analysis (MCA) and Value sensitive design (VSD) in the decision-making process. The framework proposes to involve stakeholders and incorporates their values at different stages of the assessment, making it distinct from traditional SA methods, promoting societally acceptable and sustainable solutions. The framework is designed to guide decision-making with clear structure, provide insights into system performance, and offer alternative solutions in alignment with stakeholders’ values. While the framework aims to incorporate stakeholders’ values into the design and evaluation process, it also places a strong emphasis on transparency in the selection of indicators, alternatives, and weights. This emphasis on transparency reflects the framework’s normative approach to decision-making, which prioritizes clear and open communication about the decision-making process. The proposed framework offers a comprehensive and participatory approach to address the sustainability challenges faced by the desalination sector. The significance of this work lies in its ability to guide decision-makers toward improved opportunities for sustainable development while ensuring transparency in the assessment process. This work serves as a foundational contribution with the intent of benefiting future research. 
12 Jan 2024Submitted to TechRxiv
22 Jan 2024Published in TechRxiv