A Saltwater Desalination Guide
While water makes up more than seventy percent of the Earth, only about 2.5 percent of that water is considered freshwater. Ocean water contains salt and is considered saline. Humans cannot consume salt water as the salt can cause the body to become even more dehydrated. The need for freshwater for Earth's population is a critical issue. Luckily, saline water can be turned into freshwater. As technology has continued to improve, scientists have found ways to remove salt from water, thus making it safe for humans to consume.
Fresh water scarcity is a huge problem in many arid parts of the world, and is increasingly a threat to local populations. Many arid parts of the world simply do not have enough fresh water to serve their populations. There is hope that continuing research into desalination technology can provide a solution to water scarcity issues around the world.
Desalinating water can be a costly process so it unfortunately is not available to everyone who may need it. While continuing research is leading to a reduction in desalination costs, it can still be expensive. Desalination is not actually a modern process; it is a natural process. Solar, or sun desalination is utilized by nature to produce rain. Man made distillation systems essentially duplicate this natural process on a smaller scale.
Distillation is one of the earliest types of water treatment and is still popularly used today to treat saline water. The distillation process actually dates back to ancient times. Today, there are desalination plants in many regions of the world, that are used to convert salt water into drinking water. Distillation is able to greatly reduce a wide range of drinking water contaminants, making it one of the most common forms of water treatment.
Desalinated water is most important in areas of the Middle East, which is estimated to use about seventy percent of the desalinated water in the world. North Africa also utilizes desalinated water but on a much smaller scale than the Middle Eastern region. In the industrialized world, the US is one of the biggest users of desalinated water, mainly in Florida and California. Unfortunately, desalination costs have kept it from being used more widely in other parts of the world. With improved technology, there are hopes that desalination will become less costly, and then it can be used to address water scarcity issues much more widely.
Learn more about the desalination process and water scarcity:
- Saline Water: Desalination - A page from the USGS Water Science School that explains water desalination and the worldwide need for freshwater.
- What is Desalinated Water - An FAQ page answering common questions about water desalination and water scarcity.
- How Desalination Works - An article that explains the process water goes through to remove the salt and make it safe for drinking.
- The Costs and Benefits of Desalination - Information on the costs of desalination as well as the cost of the process.
- Desalination 101: An Overview - Learn about the process of desalination, numbers and statistics, and a report from Global Water Intelligence.
- Freshwater Scarcity and Cost Effective Desalination - A look at the fresh water scarcity crisis and how desalination can be cost effective when dealing with the issue.
- Desalination By Reverse Osmosis - An explanation of the process of reverse osmosis in desalinating water.
- Three Desalination Technologies - National Geographic Magazine explores three different water desalination technologies.
- History of Desalination - A paper that explains the history of desalination, dating all the way back to Ancient times.
- Introduction To Desalination Technologies - A definition and history of desalination along with information on the different technologies.
- Is Desalination The Answer? - An article that explores whether desalination is the answer to dealing with water scarcity.
- Types of Desalination - Learn about the different types of desalination including multi-stage flash, distillation, reverse osmosis, and more.
- Renewable Energy and Desalination - Information on some of the research being done into renewable energy and desalination.
- Seawater Desalinization - Exploring the myths and realities of using desalination to deal with water shortage problems.
- Water Scarcity - The United Nations explains what water scarcity is, who is effected by it, and other important information.
Written By: Lynn Taylor