Decentralized desalination solutions for coastal communities
Desalination solutions for reusing seawater are at the cusp of rediscovery in this era of increasing water scarcity, coupled with continued population and industrial growth, climate change and environmental degradation. There is an urgent need to conserve water, as well as create new sources of high-quality water to meet future water demands sustainably.
Desalination combined with water reuse is essential for a ‘water-wise’ world. Water reuse using desalination solutions offer locally controlled water sources that are beneficial to communities and families. The treated water can be sustainably used for irrigation and domestic use without a hitch.
This blog aims to take a closer look at decentralized, small scale desalination solutions being offered for coastal villa-based communities and why they are so badly needed.
What is Desalination?
Desalinization is a water treatment solution that can be used to create freshwater from both seawater and brackish water, which is less saline than seawater but still too salty for consumption.
The U.S. Geological Survey defines saline water by the following concentrations of salt in parts per million:
- Freshwater: Less than 1,000 ppm
- Slightly saline water: 1,000 ppm – 3,000 ppm
- Moderately saline water: 3,000 ppm- 10,000 ppm
- Moderately saline water: 3,000 ppm – 10,000 ppm
- Ocean water: About 35,000 ppm
Types of distillation desalination include multiple-stage evaporation. This was considered the most feasible large-scale desalination technology in the 1960s. There is also multiple-effect distillation and vapour compression.
In recent years, these evaporative processes have been overtaken by reverse-osmosis desalination, a process that filters pressurized salt water through membranes, using less energy than distillation. Advances in membrane technology have made the process even more efficient and economical, putting desalination within reach for more people, especially those living in coastal villas, around the globe.
Decentralized desalination explained
Decentralized desalination means placing desalination treatment units directly where it’s needed instead of connecting to a large, centralized water treatment plant.
It means operationalizing smaller desalination plants in a coastal community with a surplus of saline, seawater and demand for freshwater. These smaller, more flexible desalination plants eliminate the need for extensive and costly pipe distribution networks, as opposed to centralized desalination plants.
The number of desalination units can be scaled up or down as needed, delivering water independence while avoiding the risk of overbuilding capacity.
What has made decentralized desalination even more attractive is containerized packaging of state-of-the-art water treatment technology that has brought decentralized desalination off the drawing board and into the market.
Smart, packaged desalination
Advancements in technology and packaging are brokering more small- and medium-sized decentralized desalination solutions that can convert salt water to remove the excess salt using RO and a slew of other water treatment solutions cost-effectively across a wide range of situations.
Large, traditional desalination plants vs. decentralized desalination plants
Large desalination plants may have many advantages, but the flexibility and efficiency of decentralized desalination plants make them a superior option in many situations.
These agile, energy-efficient plants — based on reverse osmosis technology — are removing obstacles that have long deterred smaller coastal communities with fewer options from taking control of their water futures.
Pipelining costs are the other big issue. Distant central desalination projects must construct extensive pipe distribution networks to transport desalinated water to an entire city or coastal community. The cost of constructing and maintaining pipe networks is generally a significant part of the expense and this is where the benefits of decentralized desalination plants lie. Decentralized small- or medium-scale desalination plants can more easily be sited directly adjacent to demand, minimizing pipeline construction expenses.
Decentralized desalination plants are also more agile. They carry fewer moving parts and have a modular design. They require only a few short months to order and commission. If increased capacity is needed, modular design allows unprecedented scalability with the addition of more self-contained units.
Smart, packaged desalination units are also an option and these can be moved or sold as conditions change. In this way, decentralized desalination radically mitigates risk.
Hydromo is committed to delivering desalination wherever it’s needed.
We offer cost-effective desalination for potable water and industrial needs for large-scale plants to decentralized water solutions. Get in touch with us for a quote.