Magazine article The Futurist

Drinkable Seawater

Magazine article The Futurist

Drinkable Seawater

Article excerpt

There's more than one way to make seawater drinkable, according to several French companies that have invested heavily in desalination technology in the Mediterranean and Middle East.

About two-thirds of desalination plants around the world rely on thermal distillation techniques1 and one-third of the market uses membrane techniques of reverse osmosis.

On the island of Majorca, off the east coast of Spain, one of the largest desalination plants in Europe meets drinking water demands by using the process of reverse osmosis. Seawater at the plant is pretreated by coagulation and filtration in order to eliminate particles in suspension; it is then forced through racks of semipermeable membranes. Equipment for the reverse osmosis desalination system is compact, modular, and easily automated. The process offers high energy efficiency and low environmental impact.

In the more-popular thermal process of multiple effect distillation (MED), seawater is heated in several evaporator-condensers installed in series; this allows the latent heat of condensation to be reused. Multiple effect distillation technology is a reliable desalination system with relatively low operating costs. …

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