Abu Dhabi’s Masdar launches a innovative pilot program
Water scarcity challenges across the global are very well known and across the globe a wide variety of innovative approaches are being taken to develop sustainable solutions for clean drinking water, one recent development was use of Graphene Oxide membranes for desalination. Abu Dhabi’s Masdar has launched a pilot program to use renewable energy for the desalination process along with other initiatives to reduce the over all energy foot print needed for desalination.
99% of the water on earth is unusable by humans
Worldwide, some 700 million people don’t have access to enough clean water. In 10 years the number is expected to explode to 1.8 billion. In many places, squeezing fresh water from the ocean might be the only viable way to increase the supply.
Here are some facts about water on earth:
- Only 3% of the water is fresh water and only 0.3% of the fresh water is found above ground in lakes, rivers and swamps
- 70% of earths surface is covered by water …. well oceans
Cracking the desalination code
For decades experts and scientists have believed that effective and efficient desalination process could solve the water scarcity issues however current desalination processes are challenged with high over all energy usage, and low operating efficiency.
Recently Israel’s Sorek desalination plant achieved a mega scale, supplying close to 50% of the countries water supply through desalination. The Sorek plants also achieved yet another milestone of being the “cheapest” to operate. A combination of innovative engineering, design and use of energy recovery systems and efficient pumps and motors have made this possible.
Today desalination only provides 1% of the world’s drinking water.
Cost breakdown of the current desalination processes shows that “energy” is one of the largest cost. Rapid developments in the renewable energy technologies is driving down capital investments and is a area of heavy investment as new desalination infrastructure is built.
Various countries have committed to make significant investments in the development of new technology for desalination. US will invest $ 10 billion over the next 5 years which would add 5.7 million cubic meters per day of new production capacity. This capacity is expected to double by 2030.
New developments in the seawater reverse osmosis membranes (SWRO) are allowing the development if high-productivity membrane elements that are designed with features to yield more fresh water per membrane element: a higher surface area and denser membrane packing. Increasing active membrane surface area allows for significant productivity gains using the same diameter membrane element.
Technology advances are expected to reduce the cost of desalinated water by 20% in the next five years, and by up to 60% in the next 20 years, making desalination a viable, sustainable and primary option for many countries.
Masdar’s Renewable Energy Desalination pilot program
Masdar has launched a pilot program to test and develop advanced energy-efficient seawater desalination technologies suitable to be powered by renewable energy sources. The long-term goal of the program is to implement renewable energy-powered desalination plants in the United Arab Emirates and to have a facility at commercial scale by 2020.
The Gulf region, an arid part of the world with scarce water resources, accounts for nearly 50 percent of the world’s desalinated water. In the UAE, seawater desalination requires about 10 times more energy than surface fresh water production, and its costs are projected to increase by 300 percent.
By embedding latest and advanced renewable energy and desalination technologies, the plant projects to be at least 25% more efficient.
This approach is also being reviewed to resolve California’s ongoing water challenges.
The author, KetanDeshpande, lives in Minnesota and writes about a variety of topics in his blog such as global economy, market and industry trends, successful strategies for businesses, and others. Leveraging his global strategic leadership experience from the manufacturing industry to offer insights in to how businesses can meet the sustainable growth and profitability goals.
Ketan Deshpande is also passionate about sustainability and renewable energy; he curates and shares latest updates in his blog posts. Recently the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency(SMMPA) of Litchfield, Minnesota, endorsed Ketan Deshpande for an energy conservation project.
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