Recent Developments in Desalination

Water Law Resource
August 28, 2012 — 1,044 views  
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Water is one of the most valuable commodities on earth. As such, the quest to use it as efficiently as possible and to improve its quality is an important topic in contemporary science and engineering. It is no surprise, then, that desalination, the process of removing sodium from salt water, is regularly examined.

Whether designed to produce usable water for farming or human consumption, desalination can play a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of a nation's residents and economy. Staying abreast of the latest developments in desalination is therefore of vital importance.

Here are a few of the most recent developments in the process.

Solar desalination

Although it has been used in some form since the 1950s, the process of solar-powered desalination has really heated up in the last few years. In fact, using the method, scientists recently created a man-made oasis in the middle of the Israeli desert, according to Science Daily.

"In the Middle East, the lack of fresh water promotes the exploitation of marginal quality sources such as brackish aquifers, but the sustainability of the current management practices is questionable," said Dr. Andrea Ghermandi of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, according to the news source.

Reverse-Osmosis Membranes

Another current method for providing fresh drinking water is the use of reverse-osmosis membranes. This process uses high pressure to force non-potable water through the pores of a membrane, which causes impurities, bacteria and salt to collect on one side while fresh water pools on the other.

Researchers at UCLA have recently started using novel organic substances such as sea kelp to serve as this membrane, Gizmag reports. Using this abundant and effective plant can help reduce costs and improve access to poorer regions.

"If you've ever snorkeled, you'll know that sea kelp move back and forth with the current or water flow," UCLA professor Yoram Cohen told the outlet. "The polymer chains protect and screen the membrane surface underneath.

The importance of innovation

Whatever the method, new sources of desalination are always needed. An academic paper on the subject authored by S.P. Bindra and Walid Abosh, both from the Tajoura Engineering Academy in Tripoli, Libya, emphasized the importance of seeking out new sources.

"There is a vital need to develop new water [policies] outlining measures to bridge the gap between current policies and those that lead to the sustainable use of the world's water resources," they wrote.

Water Law Resource