The role of desalination in the energy transition

The water circular economy

The water circular economy, where water from the sea is fed through a desalination plant to provide clean water for industrial and residential use. Fresh water from a reservoir goes through a water treatment plant to provide clean water. The wastewater from both plants is treated in a wastewater facility before being fed back to the reservoir. This circular model helps to reuse waste water, mitigate emissions, and enhances our resilience to climate change.

One of the effects of the climate crisis is increasing water scarcity and insecurity. As the impact of global warming continues to be felt, it is likely that issues surrounding access to safe, clean water will only continue to grow.

Only 3% of the world’s water is safe for human consumption. The rest is ocean water that needs to go through the desalination process to remove the salt from seawater to make it suitable for consumption and use. Desalination is becoming increasingly critical globally, with access to clean water a necessity.

Reverse osmosis

Desalination – enabling a sustainable future

There are two main types of desalination processes - multi-stage flash distillation (also known as thermal desalination) and reverse osmosis.

Multi-stage flash distillation is found mainly in existing plants and is an older, more traditional form of desalination, while reverse osmosis is more commonly used in new sites.

Reverse osmosis forces the water under extremely high pressure through a membrane to remove salt and impurities and is later treated with chemicals like fluoride and chlorine to ensure its safety.

Alternatively, Multi-stage flash uses heat to distil seawater, removing the salt and leaving clean potable water.

Desalination plant

Our role in desalination

Desalination plants are valve and actuator intensive. Both desalination processes water through several complicated stages. Efficient, precise control of the water and other liquids is essential.

Energy consumption within desalination plants is an important concern to operators, and energy recovery systems are important on desalination sites. Electric actuators are efficient to run and have low inactive energy use.

Rotork actuators are a reliable and efficient choice, offering safe and dependable operation. We concentrate on taking care of desalination plants’ primary needs. These include supporting sites throughout the planning and specification phases to provide significant value to our customers and their operations. We have a global network of local service centres and engineers and our service solutions increase plant efficiency and reduce maintenance costs.

Our latest desalination project

A desalination plant in Spain, the largest reverse osmosis desalination plant in Europe, was enhanced by installing IQ and IQT actuators. The site supplies 200,000 cubic metres/day of potable water to residents of Barcelona.

More than 400 Rotork IQ and IQT intelligent electric actuators were installed and are now controlled by eight Rotork Master Station control centres, providing a direct interface for each actuator. IQ3 actuators have the necessary ingress protection that is needed for use within water applications.

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Our latest desalination project

Our desalination solutions

Rotork manufactures a range of intelligent flow control solutions that are ideally suited to desalination applications. A selection of our most suitable products is shown below.


Case Study

Valve control for desalination plant provides drinking water for Barcelona



Helping the water and wastewater industry


White Paper

The role of flow control in desalination