Sustainable desalination process selection: Decision support framework under hybrid information

Zhenfeng Wang, Yanjin Wang, Guangyin Xu, Jingzheng Ren

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Desalination technology has been recognized as a promising solution for mitigating the pressure caused by water shortage. In order to help the decision-makers to select the most sustainable desalination process/technology, a multi-criteria decision analysis method under hybrid information was proposed for sustainability ranking of alternative desalination processes. The interval AHP (Analytic Hierarchy Process) method was employed to determine the weights of the evaluation, and the TOPSIS (Technique for Order Preference by Similarity to an Ideal Solution) under hybrid information was employed to determine the sustainability ranking of the alternative desalination processes. Comparing with the previous studies about desalination process selection, the proposed method can achieve desalination selection based on the decision-making matrix composed by multiple types of data (i.e. crisp numbers, interval numbers and fuzzy numbers). Accordingly, the challenges of uncertainties and the quantification on the soft criteria can be successfully solved. The results based on the developed model can facilitate the decision-makers to select the most sustainability desalination technology with the considerations of economic, environmental. Technological and social pillars simultaneously. Four alternative desalination processes including multi-stage flash system (MSF), low temperature multi-effect distillation (LT-MED), reverse osmosis (RO), and vapor compression distillation (VCD) were studied by the proposed method in this study, and the closeness degree (CD) of LT-MED which represents its integrated sustainability performance is 0.6984, followed by the CDs of MSF (0.5602), VCD (0.5381) and RO (0.4116), respectively. Thus, the sustainability ranking from the best to the worst is LT-MED, MSF, VCD and RO. The results were validated by the sum weighted method, and sensitivity analysis was also carried out. The results reveal that the selection of LT-MED as the most sustainable is robust.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-57
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • Desalination technology selection
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Multi-criteria decision making
  • Desalination technology selectionSustainability assessmentMultInterval analytic hierarchy process


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