Movement Towards Carbon Neutral Water Desalination Technology


Studies on climate change show that the average temperature rise per year has increased three times in the last 40 years compared to the start of the previous century. WWF claims 66% of the world population may face water scarcity by 2025, with half of the world’s freshwater resources already dried up.

Data on water level shrinking in different rivers around the world saw a decrease of 20-40% water level in the last century. United States Geological Survey claims that 65% of the world’s freshwater resources get used for irrigation purposes, and irrigation is a highly inefficient department in the world because of a significant lack of technology input.

According to The World Bank, almost 700 million lives will get affected by water shortages by the end of this century, and that forced innovators to develop many water recycling methods using technology, but that is not enough to fight back. There is a need for an increase in water desalination plants with the implementation of the latest technology.

Existing desalination technology and its cons

Water desalination is the process of separating salt and other minerals from water to make it pure. Ninety-seven percent of the total water on earth is seawater which isn’t fit for drinking or agricultural purposes.

The process of water desalination happens through Reverse Osmosis, a process of water getting passed through a semi-permeable membrane with high pressure. It traps the salt while letting pure water passes through, and the whole process requires immense energy.

According to The World, water desalination technology plants consume 200 million kWh of energy each day, adding 76 million tons of CO2 emission per year. Another major disadvantage to desalination is that it leaves brine as a by-product, which is an extremely toxic and highly salt-concentrated substance that endangers marine life when pumped back to sea.

Solar dome by Solar Water

The UK-based company, Solar Water, is building a 25-meter high, glass dome dipped in a pot to purify water from the sun’s heat. They will launch the pilot project in Neom, Saudi Arabia by the end of 2022.

Their process includes fetching seawater into a glass-made dome through glass pipelines to preheat water before reaching the glass dome. An array of parabolic mirrors will get installed to supply highly concentrated radiations to the solar dome, resulting in superheating water and converting it into highly pressurized steam in that massive pot. That steam will get condensed in a pipeline towards a reservoir collecting fresh water.

Water desalination
Image: Solar Water

The project plans to supply 30,000 cubic meters of water at an estimated cost of 34 cents per cubic meter through a 100% carbon neutral method. The process justifies much less highly concentrated brine disposal, and instead of feeding that back into seawater, it will get used in fertilizer, lithium batteries, road grit, and other industrial applications.

In conclusion, water desalination plants will increase in the future to cope with our freshwater needs, but with the implementation of such technologies as solar domes, we will get fresh water at much less cost without hurting our environment.

Photo credit: The images used are owned by Solar Water and have been provided for press usage.
Sources: WWF / United States Geological Survey / The World Bank / Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Strategic Plan / The World / Solar Water

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Ahsan Ahmed
Ahsan Ahmed
Hello, This is Ahsan Ahmed. I am an Electrical Engineer and technology enthusiast who loves writing. You would see me posting on electric power-related stories.
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