Magazine article E Magazine

Fresh Water from Down under the Waves

Magazine article E Magazine

Fresh Water from Down under the Waves

Article excerpt

Growing populations, increasing agricultural activities and new industries all need one thing: freshwater. And increasingly, they need more of it than is locally available. This is especially true for largely arid Australia.

Because it is surrounded by oceans, many Australians have wondered for years if desalinization could provide flesh water to the country's growing population. But desalinization is an energy-intensive process (most existing plants use coal or gas), and has thus far proved prohibitively expensive for most communities. And the question of what to do with the salty brine that's left from processing has led some Australian environmentalists to oppose the idea.

Now, two Australian companies, Energetech and H2AU, have joined forces to test a desalinization plant that is run on wave energy in Port Kembla harbor. By using the free power generated by the ocean's waves to drive reverse-osmosis desalinization, not only is air pollution eliminated but energy is conserved (since it is used right where it is produced, instead of losing strength through transport). "Costs will therefore be well below any other form of desalinated water," explains Tom Ebersold, chief executive of Energetech.

Ebersold adds, "With our system, we are able to mix the resulting brine back into the ocean with no impact." That's because the plant will be located offshore, where the brine can be mixed into open water without affecting near-shore ecosystems.

The plant will produce 500 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, some of which will be fed back into the electricity grid. …

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