“Green” Desalination


Photo credit: AZO Cleantech

This desalination plant in Israel, called Sorek, is currently the world’s largest, producing 625,000 cubic meters of fresh water per day. Boris Liberman, chief technology officer of IDE Technologies, the company that built this and several other huge desalination plants in Israel and California, was among the speakers at MIT’s Low Carbon Desalination Workshop, which explored the potential for reducing the carbon footprint of such facilities. (Photo courtesy IDE Technologies)

Experts Gather at MIT to Prepare Roadmap for “Green” Desalination

Written by AZoCleantech

Considered one of the most significant turnarounds ever accomplished in relation to a natural resource emergency, Israel has overcome a threatening fresh water scarcity within a decade.

Currently, the country has such a large water surplus it exports large quantities to its parched neighboring countries. The turnaround was achieved with the construction of the largest desalination plants in the world. The desalination plants convert the Mediterranean seawater into potable water for both domestic purposes as well as agriculture.

Although this excess water is an important example for countries around the world that are dealing with water shortages, it also has an environmental impact: Desalination plants consume a lot of energy, the production of which would require fossil fuels to be burnt in large power plants.

To solve that issue and prepare a roadmap for future research and demonstrations, some of the world’s leading experts in the technology, regulatory issues involving desalination, and economics recently gathered at MIT.

They talked about a way to remove the salt from seawater or brackish aquifers at all scales, from small, local installations to the large megaprojects as seen in Israel, while reducing or eliminating the related greenhouse gas emissions.

Read the full article: AZO Cleantech

Restoring polluted waters and desalinisation

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Water after Borders

US and Middle Eastern mayors agree water know-how swap

by Puneet Kollipara

“The partnership will go beyond technology exchange. Mayors who signed the pact will also work on business and educational capacity building and community exchanges.” – Gidon Bromberg, EcoPeace Middle East’s, Israeli

Speed read

  • Middle Eastern mayors could learn about restoring polluted waters
  • US mayors could benefit from desalinisation technology used in the Middle East
  • The deal may involve workshops, site visits and community exchanges

Mayors in the United States and the Middle East have agreed to share information and technologies for managing water.

The deal is intended to help both sides access each other’s knowledge and experience in tackling problems relating to limited freshwater resources. The Sister Waters agreement was signed on 24 April in Chicago, United States.

Those backing the agreement hope it will enable mayors from Israel, Jordan and Palestine, along with those from the Great Lakes region in the United States, to address weaknesses in their water management. The partners plan to run workshops and site visits, and to swap experts.

“The agreement will hopefully be the beginning of knowledge exchange and technology transfer,” says Rachel Havrelock, head of the Freshwater Lab project at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and organiser of the event where the deal was signed.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Raised beds and soil salinity


Soil salinity management on raised beds with different furrow irrigation modes in salt-affected lands

Authors: Devkota M.Gupta R.K., Martius C., Lamers J.P.A., Sayre K.D., Vlek P.L.G.

Source: Agricultural Water Management 162: 243-250

Mismanagement of irrigation water and the ensuing secondary salinization are threatening the sustainability of irrigated agriculture especially in many dryland regions. The permanent raised-bed/furrow system, a water-wise conservation agriculture-based practice, is gaining importance for row- and high value-crops in irrigated agriculture. However, because of additional surface exposure and elevation, raised beds may be more prone to salt accumulation especially under shallow water table conditions. A field study was carried out in 2008 and 2009 in the Khorezm region, Central Asia, to investigate the effect of three furrow irrigation methods on salt dynamics of the soil and the performance of the cotton crop on the raised bed-furrow system. The irrigation methods compared included (i) Conventional furrow irrigation wherein every furrow was irrigated (EFI) at each irrigation event; (ii) Alternate skip furrow irrigation (ASFI where one of two neighbouring furrows were alternately irrigated during consecutive irrigations events; and (iii) Permanent skip furrow irrigation (PSFI) during which irrigation was permanently skipped in one of the two neighbouring furrows during all irrigation events. For salinity management with PSFI a ‘managed salt accumulation and effective leaching’ approach was pursued.

Read the full article: CIFOR

Could desalination be the answer to California’s drought?

Photo credit: Phys.Org.

As parts of the state become drier, scientists are looking at ways to turn seawater into drinkable water.

New desalination technology could answer state drought woes


Desalination has made headlines in recent months as a possible solution to the state’s water shortage. But in addition to being expensive, its byproduct—salty brine—can harm marine life once it’s reintroduced into the ocean.

A team of researchers from Humboldt State University and the University of Southern California is hoping to address those concerns with a new process called Reverse Osmosis-Pressure Retarded Osmosis (RO-PRO).

They recently received a $600,000 grant from the California Department of Water Resources to develop a portable, prototype RO-PRO system in Samoa, Calif.—which could lower the cost of desalination and reduce its impact on the environment.

“The high cost and environmental impact of desalination are major issues preventing it from becoming a reliable, drought-resistant water supply,” said Andrea Achilli, an Environmental Resources Engineering professor at Humboldt State, who holds a patent on the technology with researchers from the University of Southern California and Colorado School of Mines. “What our system does is address those problems head on.”

Desalination plants typically use , a process that pushes saltwater through a membrane to create purified, drinking water. But in addition to being costly, and energy-intensive, reverse osmosis can negatively impact the environment.

Read the full article: Phys.-Org.

Solar Water Desalination (Alpha Minds)

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Solar Water Distiller Enables Desalination Anywhere There’s Sunlight and Saltwater

Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti (@GabDiamanti) has invented Eliodomestico, an eco-distiller running on solar power, to provide safe drinking-water for people in developing countries: a very simple way to produce healthy, bacteria-free water. Eliodomestico is an open source project.

Winner at Core77 Design Award 2012 – social impact category; Finalist at the Prix Émile Hermès 2011 competition.

An experimental greenhouse with the promise of solving the world’s food problems (OurWorld 2.0)

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Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world’s food crisis?

by Jonathan Margolis

The scrubby desert outside Port Augusta, three hours from Adelaide, is not the kind of countryside you see in Australian tourist brochures. The backdrop to an area of coal-fired power stations, lead smelting and mining, the coastal landscape is spiked with saltbush that can live on a trickle of brackish seawater seeping up through the arid soil. Poisonous king brown snakes, redback spiders, the odd kangaroo and emu are seen occasionally, flies constantly. When the local landowners who graze a few sheep here get a chance to sell some of this crummy real estate they jump at it, even for bottom dollar, because the only real natural resource in these parts is sunshine.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that a group of young brains from Europe, Asia and north America, led by a 33-year-old German former Goldman Sachs banker but inspired by a London theatre lighting engineer of 62, have bought a sizeable lump of this unpromising outback territory and built on it an experimental greenhouse which holds the seemingly realistic promise of solving the world’s food problems.

Indeed, the work that Sundrop Farms, as they call themselves, are doing in South Australia, and just starting up in Qatar, is beyond the experimental stage. They appear to have pulled off the ultimate something-from-nothing agricultural feat — using the sun to desalinate seawater for irrigation and to heat and cool greenhouses as required, and thence cheaply grow high-quality, pesticide-free vegetables year-round in commercial quantities.


A new nano “water chip” for desalination (Green Prophet)

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Tiny “Water Chip” Desalinates Water With the Power of a Store-Bought Battery

by Tafline Laylin

Water scarcity is probably the most pressing environmental concern in the Middle East region and current desalination technologies are too costly and energy-intensive to rely on as a sustainable solution. But a new nano “water chip” that uses the power of a store-bought battery holds promise.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Marburg in Germany sought to develop a method of removing salt from water that did not require a membrane. That was the first priority, since membranes used in current desalination plants is prone to contamination.

Secondly, they wanted to reduce the energy-intensity associated with reverse osmosis and other common desalination methods and they wanted a system that would be affordable for just about anyone living near salt or brackish water.

The research team worked with Okeanos Technologies, a small startup created to first develop and then finally distribute the technology.


The 2011 Drought and Beyond (SCRIBD)

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The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond

The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond looks at innovative water management solutions such as aquifer storage and recovery, used in cities such as San Antonio; the use of treated wastewater for irrigation; and the conversion of brackish groundwater into drinking water (known as desalination).


Graphene (Perforene) for desalination of seawater (Reuters)

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Pentagon weapons-maker finds method for cheap, clean water

By David Alexander

(Reuters) – A defense contractor better known for building jet fighters and lethal missiles says it has found a way to slash the amount of energy needed to remove salt from seawater, potentially making it vastly cheaper to produce clean water at a time when scarcity has become a global security issue.

The process, officials and engineers at Lockheed Martin Corp say, would enable filter manufacturers to produce thin carbon membranes with regular holes about a nanometer in size that are large enough to allow water to pass through but small enough to block the molecules of salt in seawater. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.

Because the sheets of pure carbon known as graphene are so thin – just one atom in thickness – it takes much less energy to push the seawater through the filter with the force required to separate the salt from the water, they said.

The development could spare underdeveloped countries from having to build exotic, expensive pumping stations needed in plants that use a desalination process called reverse osmosis.


How to Desalinate Water Renewably (Green Prophet)

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Masdar Launches Plan to Desalinate Water Renewably

by Tafline Laylin

Masdar held a packed press conference late last week to announce its launch of three renewably-powered desalination pilot projects. On the last day of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Masdar CEO Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said that existing desalination technology will continue to “play its role,” but added that the company will also explore ways to “harness natural resources, like solar, wind, geothermal.”

Currently, desalination accounts for a huge proportion of the emirate’s carbon footprint, one of the world’s highest per capita. 90 percent of the nation’s water supply is derived this way, which leaves the Emirate no choice but to find new and innovative solutions to water scarcity that don’t sop up the country’s own energy.


A solution for desertification (Tomorrow is Greener)

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A solution for desertification: Putting the desert into good use

Due to deforestation, global warming and lack of fresh (surface) water acres of land turn into dust every year. Desertification, as it is called, is hard to stop and may turn a significant percentage of our landmass into unusable soil.

Recently a group of people from several companies/organizations have come up with an idea which combines seawater greenhouses and concentrated solar power to solve the problem of desertification along with the shortage of water, food and energy.

By pumping saltwater into greenhouses you can extract fresh water from the ocean. These greenhouses are powered by concentrated solar power stations, which on their turn are provided with fresh water from the greenhouses. The surplus of fresh water is then used to grow crops for food and biofuel. By planting crops to produce food and biofuel the desert is revegetated and local communities are provided with food and water.

The project, called ‘The Sahara Forest Project’, is still in the experimental phase and more research has to be done before actual life size tests are implemented.

For more info visit the Sahara Forest Project website.


Worldwide “Help to Avoid Desertification” idea contest (KAUST)

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Desertification and Water Treatment: WDRC Researchers Win Top Honors

Researchers from King Adbullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Water Desalination and Reuse Center (WDRC) have taken both first and second place in the worldwide “Help to Avoid Desertification” idea contest, sponsored by Bayer MaterialScience.

The winners of this worldwide competition, comprising 97 entries, were announced on June 29, 2012. In first place was KAUST PhD candidate Noura Shehab. Her proposal, supported by co-advisors Prof. Pascal Saikaly and Prof. Gary Amy, entitled “The End of Desertification – A Novel & Sustainable Technology for the Middle East and North Africa Arid Lands”, won the top prize of €7,000.

Also recognized were a team of engineering specialists, under the helm of Prof. Amy, represented by Rodrigo Valladares Linares and Muhannad Abu-Ghdaib, and post docs Zhen-Yu Li and Chun-Hai Wei. Their proposal, “Hybrid membrane system for impaired water recovery, energy production, and salt-tolerant crop harvesting in water-scarce regions”, was awarded the second prize of €4,000.

Both winners have been invited to visit the Bayer MaterialScience headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany in September. Noura Shehab hopes that this trip will be an opportunity to interact with industry players.


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