Desalination accounts for 1% of the total global water consumption and is an energy-intensive process, with the majority of operational expenses attributed to energy consumption. Moreover, at present, a significant portion of the power comes from traditional fossil-fuel-fired power plants and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with power production along with concentrated brine discharge from the process, pose a severe threat to the environment. Due to the dramatic impact of climate change, there is a major opportunity to develop sustainable desalination processes to combat the issues of brine discharge, greenhouse gas emissions along with a reduction in energy consumption per unit of freshwater produced. Nanotechnology can play a vital role to achieve specific energy consumption reduction as nanofluids application increases the overall heat transfer coefficient enabling the production of more water for the same size desalination plant. Furthermore, concentrated brine discharge harms the marine ecosystems, and hence, this problem must also be solved to support the objective of sustainable desalination. Several studies have been carried out in the past several years in the field of nanotechnology applications for desalination, brine treatment and the role of renewable energy in desalination. This paper aims to review the major advances in this field of nanotechnology for desalination. Furthermore, a hypothesis for developing an integrated solar thermal and nanofluid sustainable desalination system, based on the cyclic economy model, is proposed.
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