Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New paper examines future of seawater desalinization

05.08.2011
A paper co-authored by William Phillip of the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Menachem Elimelech, Robert Goizueta Professor of Environmental and Chemical Engineering at Yale University, appearing in this week's edition of the journal Science offers a critical review of the state of seawater desalination technology.

Elimelech and Phillip and examine how seawater desalination technology has advanced over the past 30 years, in what ways the state-of-the-art technology can be improved, and if seawater desalination is a sustainable technological solution to global water shortages.

"At present, one-third of the world's population lives in water stressed countries, Phillip said. "Increasing population, contamination of fresh water sources and climate change will cause this percentage to increase over the coming decade. Additionally, the social and ecological benefits of adequate fresh water resources are well-documented. Therefore, it is important to find a way to alleviate this stress with a sustainable solution."

The authors point out that in recent years, large-scale seawater desalination plants have been built in water-stressed countries to augment available water resources and construction of new desalination plants is expected to increase in the near future. Despite major advancements in desalination technologies, seawater desalination is still more energy intensive compared to conventional technologies for the treatment of fresh water. There are also concerns about the potential environmental impacts of large-scale seawater desalination plants.

In their Science paper, Elimelech and Phillip review the possible reductions in energy demand by state-of-the-art desalination technologies, the potential role of advanced materials and innovative technologies in improving the performance, and the sustainability of desalination as a technological solution to global water shortages.

The authors believe that there are important policy implications in their Science paper.

"Seawater desalination is an energy-intensive process; desalinating seawater consumes significantly more energy than treating traditional fresh water sources," Phillip said. "However, these traditional sources aren't going to be able to meet the growing demand for water worldwide. Several options already exist to augment fresh water sources — including the treatment of low-quality local water sources, water recycling and reuse and water conservation, —understanding where seawater desalination fits into this portfolio of water supply options is critical. Hopefully, our paper helps provide some of the information needed to inform the decisions of policy makers, water resource planers, scientists, and engineers on the suitability of desalination as a means to meet the increasing demands for water."

Phillip, who joined the Notre Dame faculty this year, is interested in examining how membrane structure and chemistry affect the transport of chemicals across a variety of membranes. Understanding the connection between functionality and property enables the design and fabrication of next generation membranes that provide more precise control over the transport of chemical species. These material advantages can be leveraged to design more effective and energy-efficient systems. Chemical separations at the water- energy nexus (e.g. desalination) is one area where this knowledge can be applied.

william phillip | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nd.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>