Study surveys water desalination

Suggests ways technology could help water-stressed countries

SOUTH BEND, IN (UPI) | August 9, 2011

"At present, one-third of the world's population lives in water stressed countries"

—William Phillip, University of Notre Dame

U.S. researchers have reviewed the current state of seawater desalination technology and its potential as a sustainable solution to global water shortages.

William Phillip of the University of Notre Dame and Menachem Elimelech at Yale University analyzed how seawater desalination technology has advanced in the past 30 years and in what ways the technology can be improved, a Notre Dame release said Thursday.

"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."

Despite major advancements in desalination technologies, the process is still more energy intensive than conventional technologies for the treatment of freshwater, the researchers said.

"However, these traditional sources aren't going to be able to meet the growing demand for water worldwide," Phillip said.

Elimelech and Phillip reviewed the possible reductions in energy demand by state-of-the-art desalination technologies and the potential role of advanced materials and innovative technologies in improving efficiency.

"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," the researchers said.

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