Today on Planet 100: Water Desalination 101 (Video)
With global water supplies dwindling at an alarming rate, Planet 100 offers up a timely guide on everything you need to know about Water Desalination.Why is it Important?
Why are we even talking about water desalination? Quite frankly, because we're on the brink of a global water crisis.
As the global population rises so does demand for water which puts pressure on the planet's finite supply. Add to scarcity, the fact that we're polluting what little we have left, you can see why desalination is becoming an important issue.
What is Desalination?
Water desalination is a process that removes salt and other minerals to create fresh, drinkable water.
Used on many seagoing ships and submarines, interest is now focused on developing cost-effective ways of providing fresh water for human use in regions where the availability of fresh water is, or is becoming, limited.
How Does it Work?
While technological advances to improve desalination are being made every day, it still remains an expensive, energy intensive process.
The first main method of desalination is called multi-stage flash distillation, which uses heat to evaporate water, leaving the salt behind. This accounted for 84% of all desalination in 2004. The other is reverse osmosis desalination, which pumps water through filtration membranes.
Where is Desal Happening?
Desalination is gaining ground among water-strapped nations. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, China, and Israel are the top five desalination markets.
Even London has flipped the on switch to a desalination plant on the Thames to provide water to its citizens as supplies grow short. Australia also has desalination plants in several areas, and has been making progress on reducing their environmental footprint by running them on renewable energy.
What are the Alternatives?
Desalination is only possible for communities with the right mix of proximity to seawater and energy. For those that don't fit this bill, there are alternatives.
Graywater recycling is ideal for some communities to treat and reuse wastewater for irrigation. Stormwater harvesting and rainwater capture and storage are also possibilities - and are currently being practiced, with some ensuing controversy, in places like Colorado.