News Feature | March 10, 2014

Sustainable Desalination Plant First Of Its Kind

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

maldivesreg

An energy-efficient desalination plant has opened in the Republic of the Maldives.

"The Maldivian Island of Guhli welcomed the world’s first desalination unit utilizing the waste heat of the local power generator to produce up to 10 tons of drinking water per day through membrane distillation," according to an announcement from the Aquiva Foundation, a U.K.-based organization that aims to assist developing countries with their water needs.

The project was a joint venture between the foundation and STELCO, a local power company. The pair won funding last year "to desalinate water utilizing the waste heat available on all Maldivian Islands," the announcement said. 

“We think this is a fantastic opportunity for the Maldives, but if it works in the Maldives the way we think it will, I think the world will look differently at desalinating water, because all of a sudden you can do it sustainably on a really large scale,” Aquiva CEO Florian Bollen said.

D&WR, an outlet published with the support of the International Desalination Association, explained the benefits of the project: "The 10 m³/d system...is providing water for about 1,200 inhabitants, whose only other water source is seasonal rain, to use for drinking, cooking and hygienic purposes," the report said. 

How does it work? "The desalination plant taps into the cooling cycle of local diesel generators to retrieve the thermal heat that is otherwise wasted into the air. This waste heat of about 85°C drives a desalination process under vacuum using the membrane distillation modules of the German/Singaporean company Memsys Clearwater Pte," the report said. 

The Maldives struggle with water scarcity. "The lack of fresh drinking water in the country’s 190 inhabited islands – made worse with the contamination of groundwater following the 2004 tsunami – leaves most communities reliant on rainwater and vulnerable to shortages during the dry seasons," Minivan News reported

For more check out Water Online’s Desalination Page

Image credit: "Maldives," © 2008 chopr, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

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