Geothermal brines can be a resource of energy, freshwater and minerals. Even when rejected after their exploitation to produce energy in a power plant, the brines can be a source of freshwater and minerals, and can have a residual enthalpy that can be recovered to produce additional power. The different reuse scenarios of these wasted brines depend on the composition and temperature at which they must be reinjected into the wells. On this basis, geothermal energy production is a perfect case study to investigate the water–energy nexus and to optimize the integrated energy- and water-production processes. In this paper, two case studies of brine reuse for both energy and water production are presented with the related process analysis, basic design and technical–economic analysis. A methodology to evaluate the exergy efficiency of the processes is presented by analyzing minimum work of separation, the maximum achievable work and the additional primary energy required for integrated production. The novel approach to estimate the process efficiency for integrated geothermal energy and desalination plants is applied to the case studies and discussed in light of literature results.
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