The production of fresh water from the sea is one of the applications that can benefit from the use of the simplest form of the heat pump. The benefit is in product cost as well as in system efficiency. What is missing is an appropriately designed low pressure head large volumetric flow steam compressor.

The paper addresses the design aspects of the needed compressor. A design model of a conventional axial compressor and that of an unconventional radial inflow compressor are generated for performance/cost analysis. The models allow few alternative design features to be investigated.

The heat pump-based system and the system of the current distillation practice of cogenerating power and water are compared on a cost-efficiency plane under a common economic environment. A steam compressor rated at a cost below $3000/kW and of adiabatic efficiency higher than 85% can give the lead to the heat pump-based system.

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