• It involves more than ten pilot plants the cover the whole desalination process, with the aim of validating new developments that are more efficient and sustainable.
  • Digital innovation strategies (IoT, machine learning, advanced data analysis and decision-making support systems) applied to desalination process will be implemented.
  • It is located in the San Pedro del Pinatar II desalination plant in Murcia (Spain), owned by Mancomunidad de los Canales del Taibilla.

ACCIONA has put LEAD ("Leading Experimental Accelerator in Desalination") into service, an innovative space to demonstrate new R&D+I developments that lead to increased efficiency and sustainability in desalination processes.

This new research platform is located in the Seawater Desalination Plant at San Pedro del Pinatar II (Murcia), owned by Mancomunidad de los Canales del Taibilla (hereinafter MCT, an autonomous body that reports to the Secretary of State for the Environment of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge).

MCT collaborates with ACCIONA in the development of this R + D + i platform, providing the physical space at the San Pedro del Pinatar II plant, the intake points for the supply and discharge of seawater and rejection, and the electrical connection. The construction contract for this plant was awarded to ACCIONA, which is currently operating, resulting in an strategic location.

It has more than ten permanent installations that cover all the stages of the desalination process, the main ones being: granular filtration, flotation-filtration (ACTIDAFF®), flotation, (ULTRADAF®), ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, reverse osmosis and membrane distillation. It also has a temporary area housing other pilot plants for trials of shorter duration. The size of the pilot plants (200 l/h – 45 m3/h) and the level of technological maturity (Technology Readiness Levels [TRL] between  5 – 8) of the processes studied is very high, providing great versatility and added value for the studies carried out.  

LEAD evaluates how the new technologies and configurations function in a real setting, using the same catchment water as the desalination plant and operating 24/7.

The lab allows us to make a long-term evaluation of the performance of the new technologies developed, both individually and integrated, which leads to easier implementation and more representative results. It is also equipped to simulate extreme water quality episodes (e.g. algae blooms, high turbidity) and test the technologies to their limits.

As well as validating new technologies and process, operating conditions are optimized to reduce energy consumption and the use of reagents, and maximize water performance using technologies based on Big Data, Machine Learning and advanced sensors. The ultimate aim is to improve the sustainability of the seawater desalination process, reduce energy consumption, integrate desalination processes into the circular economy and validate new developments applicable to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of desalination plants.

The programme is part of ACCIONA’s commitment to innovation in desalination, an area where it develops innovative R&D+i projects and in which the Company is a global leader.