Seawater Desalination: How It Works

Seawater desalination via evaporation

There are several ways to filter salt out of seawater. They are particularly popular where there is little fresh water.

  • Especially in the oil-rich countries in the Middle East, the largest source of drinking water is seawater.
  • Desalination takes place here via multi-stage flash evaporation. The existing oil is used to obtain drinking water.
  • Here, as the name suggests, water evaporates. The water vapor is free of salts and is discharged as drinking water.
  • All that remains is a brine, which is repeatedly heated and desalinated with new seawater.
  • The excess salt is returned to the sea.
  • This method is particularly energy-intensive and, due to a large number of fossil fuels, both expensive and bad for the environment.
  • The largest seawater desalination plant in the world is located in the United Arab Emirates. More than 20 million cubic meters of water are desalinated there every day.

Drinking water by reverse osmosis

  • The water is filtered through a membrane under high pressure. This membrane has particularly small pores of just a few nanometers. Only very small molecules can penetrate the membrane.
  • In this way, the water can be separated from salt, bacteria, and viruses.
  • In addition, lime, heavy metals, and even pesticides can be filtered out with reverse osmosis.
  • The water obtained through reverse osmosis is therefore particularly healthy. In a simplified form, reverse osmosis water filters are therefore also used in private households.
  • However, there is also a high energy requirement here.
  • In addition, the systems must be cleaned regularly. Here, chemical substances such as chlorine are used, which under no circumstances may be discharged untreated into the sea.
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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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