Desalination is the solution for people living in the dry parts of the world to get supplies of fresh drinking water. It prevents depending on groundwater supplies such as rivers and streams. Large scale desalination companies have been established to extract fresh water from the salt water drawn from the sea. There are various types of techniques to remove salt from water but reverse osmosis is the most popular desalination technique.
In reverse osmosis, the sea salt water is pumped into a tank equipped with a semi permeable membrane. The high water pressure will push the water molecules from one one side of the membrane to another side. The membrane only has hole large enough for the water molecules to pass through but the salt won’t be able to pass through the membrane and will stay behind.
The pore on the semi permeable membrane is very tiny and is only a fraction of the hair size. Not just one pump is used to create the high pressure but multiple pumps are being used. This is to ensure that there is enough pressure exerted on the water to push it through the tiny holes in the membrane and go to the other side reserved for clean filtered drinking water.
Desalination is necessary because 97% of the water on earth has high salt concentration and unfit for drinking. Desalination ensures that there is enough drinking water in the world because of the water scarcity crisis in many regions in the world. Without clean water, people will be forced to drink unclean water that is contaminated which can result in epidemics of diseases like typhoid fever.
Certain regions in USA that is nearby to the coast like California is experiencing water shortage. Establishing desalination plants in these areas ensures that the communities there will have a reliable water source. Survey shows that there will be increased investment on establishing desalination plants in the next decades in cities that are experiencing water scarcity problems.
The desalination plant in Carlsbad, California is the largest of all the desalination companies in the west. It is estimated that the Carlsbad desalination plant produces at least 50 millions gallons of water. Desalinated water is safe to drink and won’t cause any health issues. It tastes the same just like bottled and tap water. More and more desalination companies are being set up around the globe. Setting up a desalination plant can be costly and require an investment of billions of dollars.
In order for the desalination technology to work efficiently, it requires a huge amount of energy. Reverse osmosis involves cheaper costs and lesser energy consumption compared to other desalination techniques. One downside of reverse osmosis is that it produces brine leftovers which will can harm marine life when released back to the ocean following the desalination process.
Currently, they are doing research to improve the processes in desalination plant to reduce the energy consumption and the impacts on the environment. The research helps to improve many aspects of desalination including powering plants, and reducing energy consumption by using waste heat from other facilities.