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Desalination

Scientists have found huge freshwater reserves under the world's oceans (Photo: Shuttersto...

Scientists in Australia have reported the discovery of huge freshwater reserves preserved in aquifers under the world's oceans. The water has remained shielded from seawater thanks to the accumulation of a protective layer of sediment and clay. And it’s not a local phenomenon. Such reserves are to be found under continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa.  Read More

The prototype 'water chip'

Although various alternative technologies are being developed, the large-scale desalination of seawater typically involves forcing it through a membrane that allows the water to pass through, but that traps the salt. These membranes can be costly, they can get fouled, and powerful pumps are required to push the water through. Now, however, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and Germany’s University of Marburg are taking another approach. They’ve developed a chip that separates salt from water.  Read More

Fraunhofer's polymer-copper desalination pipes

In a typical desalination plant, pipes made from titanium or other expensive types of metal are an integral part of the process. Now, however, scientists have created a new type of piping material that is much cheaper to produce – potentially making desalination possible in countries that previously couldn’t afford it.  Read More

Prof. Somenath Mitra has developed a membrane incorporating carbon nanotubes, that could l...

When it comes to desalinating salt water, two of the main options are thermal distillation and reverse osmosis. Thermal distillation involves boiling the water and collecting the resulting freshwater condensation, while reverse osmosis involves pressurizing the salt water and forcing it through a semipermeable membrane, which will allow water molecules to pass through, but not salt. Both of these methods, however, require a considerable amount of energy – not as environmentally sound as they could be, nor entirely practical for use in developing nations, where electricity isn’t readily available. Now, however, a newly-developed membrane that incorporates carbon nanotubes could make desalination much quicker, easier and energy-efficient.  Read More

MIT researchers have developed a portable, solar-powered water desalination system that co...

Researchers from MIT's Field and Space Robotics Laboratory (FSRL) have designed a portable, solar-powered desalination system to bring drinkable water in disaster zones and remote regions around the globe. Designed to be cost-effective and easy to assemble, the prototype system uses solar panels to power high-pressure pumps which can deliver up to 80 gallons of clean water a day in a variety of weather conditions.  Read More

The Sea Kettle concept life raft not only aims to provide shelter from the elements but al...

The thought of folks suffering from extreme dehydration whilst stranded in a life raft at sea got industrial designer Kim Hoffman thinking of a way to turn all that sea water into safe, drinkable, life-saving refreshment. She took inspiration from portable desalination tools and created the Sea Kettle concept, a colorful life raft that uses heat from the sun to evaporate salty water and collect condensed run off in containers within the raft's structure.  Read More

This concentrator photovoltaic unit at IBM Research is being used to collect data to optim...

In spite of the technological age we live in it is reported that one-in-five people on this planet still don’t have access to clean drinking water. To help correct this imbalance, a new, energy-efficient desalination plant with an expected production capacity of 30,000 cubic meters per day will be built in the city of Al Khafji, Saudi Arabia, to serve its 100,000 people. Known more for its computers, IBM has joined forces with KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology) to build the plant that will be powered by ultra-high concentrator photovoltaic (UHCPV) technology - a system with a concentration greater than 1,500 suns.  Read More

The new reverse osmosis membrane will help desalination plants avoid costly clogging and m...

Increasing numbers of countries turning to desalination plants to bolster dwindling water supplies with most new facilities making use of reverse osmosis technology. Unfortunately these systems are susceptible to clogging and membrane damage, which places higher energy demands on the pumping system and necessitates costly cleanup and membrane replacement. Now researchers have unveiled a new class of reverse-osmosis membrane that resists the clogging that typically occurs when seawater, brackish water and waste-water are purified.  Read More

A single unit of the new desalination device - in the Y-shaped channel (in red), seawater ...

Following natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and Hurricane Katrina, potable water is often in high demand and short supply. In both of those instances, the disaster zones were near the sea, but converting salty seawater to potable fresh water usually requires a large amount of dependable electrical power and large-scale desalination plants - neither of which were available in the disaster areas. A new approach to desalination, called ion concentration polarization, could lead to small, portable desalination units that could be powered by solar cells or batteries and could deliver enough fresh water to supply the needs of a family or small village.  Read More

Graduate student Alex Bartman works with the M3 water filtration and desalination system (...

Desalination is a popular source of potable water in Middle Eastern countries, where large energy reserves and the relative scarcity of water suitable for drinking led to desalination in the region accounting for close to 75% of total world capacity in 2007. If that figure hasn’t already dropped it almost certainly will as access to clean water becomes an issue for many places around the globe. And the shortage isn’t just limited to developing countries, with places like California and parts of Australia facing their worst droughts in recorded history. A new mini-mobile-modular (M3) “smart” water desalination and filtration system could help determine the feasibility of desalination in areas that may be considering it for the first time.  Read More

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