News Feature | October 3, 2016

Two Innovative Desal Projects Making A Splash

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,
@sarmje

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A few of the latest desalination innovations from around the world have the potential to change processes at water utilities in the U.S.

Engadget provided a roundup of new clean-water innovations that could make “a real impact for some of the 663 million people who suffer from water shortages.” A couple of the desalination projects, which differ from traditional desalination in key ways including how they harness energy, could prove useful templates for managers at domestic water plants, especially in California and Texas, where desalination technology is in use.

The Wave Energy project is a utility-scale desalination facility already operating in Australia, according to Engadget. The floating desalination project, which cost $32 million, aims to “prove that waves can generate real power for the electric grid on land. Submerged in the roiling seas off the coast of Perth in Western Australia, buoy-like CETO technologies harness energy from incoming swells and convert it into electricity and desalinated water,” Inhabitat reported.

A key upside is a lack of greenhouse gas emissions. Project backers call it “the world’s first commercial-scale wave energy array that is connected to the grid and has the ability to produce desalinated water.”

“The submerged 240-kilowatt buoys work together in a trio, tethered to the seabed with hydraulic pumps that push water through power turbines as the system bobs with the wave,” Inhabitat reported.

Another innovative desal proposal: The Pipe is a desalination proposal designed to float on the sea off Santa Monica Pier. The idea “made a splash this summer with its promise of providing 1.5 billion gallons of clean drinking water for the drought-stricken state.”

The plant would be solar-powered, relying on electromagnetic desalination processes. It would flush byproducts back into the Pacific Ocean after filtering them through thermal baths. “The Pipe is also getting attention for its eye appeal, as it was designed to look more like a giant glittering sculpture than a piece of industrial equipment,” the report said.

The design “allows people to seamlessly interact with their source of drinking water without any of the unpleasant side effects typically associated with energy generation,” Inhabitat reported.

To read about similar projects visit Water Online’s Desalination Solutions Center.

Image credit: "North California Coastline 1" Ben Cohen © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/