Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by Cactus on Monday February 17 2014, @07:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the It's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
similar_name writes:

As part of a project developed by San Francisco area start-up WaterFX, a giant solar receiver in Firebaugh, CA, rotates to track the sun and capture its energy. The 377-foot array, however, does not generate electricity, but instead creates heat used to desalinate water. The goal is to tap the abundant, if contaminated, resource in this parched region: the billions of gallons of water that lie just below the surface.

The water is tainted with toxic levels of salt, selenium and other heavy metals that wash down from the nearby Panoche foothills, and is so polluted that it must be constantly drained to keep it from poisoning crops. This, coupled with the record-breaking drought that California is facing means that irrigation costs are going to double or triple as farms are forced to buy water on the spot market.

"Food prices are going to go up, absolutely", said Dennis Falaschi, manager of the Panoche Water District. "This year, farmers in the Panoche district will receive no water. Last year, they received only 20 percent of their allocation", Mr. Falaschi said. In 2012, the allocation was 40 percent. Farmers elsewhere who rely on the State Water Project to irrigate 750,000 acres of farmland will also receive no water in 2014.

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by mrcoolbp on Monday February 17 2014, @07:12PM

    by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Monday February 17 2014, @07:12PM (#955) Homepage

    Looks promising, but there is the issue with what to do with all the toxic salt being extracted.

    http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/science/in-talk-of -solar-desalination-theres-a-salty-elephant-in-the -room.html [kcet.org]

    --
    (Score:1^½, Radical)
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +4  
       Interesting=1, Informative=3, Total=4
    Extra 'Informative' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 2) by edIII on Monday February 17 2014, @07:28PM

    by edIII (791) on Monday February 17 2014, @07:28PM (#971)

    It's close to Nevada. Put in that cluster *%&$ of a project that was supposed to store nuclear waste.

    --
    Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Monday February 17 2014, @07:50PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday February 17 2014, @07:50PM (#990) Journal

    If brine remains after solar thermal has evaporated water, can't you flush the brine with fresh seawater? The brine returning to the ocean will quickly be rediluted in solution, and we get a fresh volume of seawater to desalinate. If you can extract useful products from the brine directly, then so much the better--their sale can be used to defray the operation costs of the plant.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by mrcoolbp on Monday February 17 2014, @07:56PM

      by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Monday February 17 2014, @07:56PM (#1001) Homepage

      So you suggest we just dump toxic salt into the ocean? Doesn't seem like a great idea....

      --
      (Score:1^½, Radical)
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by weilawei on Monday February 17 2014, @08:06PM

        by weilawei (109) on Monday February 17 2014, @08:06PM (#1016)

        The successor to global warming: Global Salting. Anyone want some tinned fish?

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by VLM on Monday February 17 2014, @08:51PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 17 2014, @08:51PM (#1064)

      They used to dump the saltwater into the nearby river but that'll salinate the river and kill everything downstream, so that's now a non-starter.

      I did some google maps research and they'd need a 60 to 80 mile pipeline or canal (two of them) to get access to the sea shore.

      Its probably a heck of a lot simpler and cheaper and more productive to simply move your farm out of the desert and into the great lakes area. No shortage of water or land here. Just keep the water in the same watershed.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by dry on Tuesday February 18 2014, @03:09AM

        by dry (223) on Tuesday February 18 2014, @03:09AM (#1335) Journal

        Its probably a heck of a lot simpler and cheaper and more productive to simply move your farm out of the desert and into the great lakes area. No shortage of water or land here. Just keep the water in the same watershed.

        Seems it would be hard to grow things like oranges around the great lakes and a short growing season for other crops. Might have to go to more greenhouses eventually which will expand the areas where farming is profitable.

    • (Score: 1) by demonlapin on Monday February 17 2014, @09:43PM

      by demonlapin (925) on Monday February 17 2014, @09:43PM (#1103) Journal
      It's not seawater, it's groundwater in these areas that is too high in heavy metals to be used as-is.

      You could use it to boost oil production... (runs and hides)
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Angry Jesus on Monday February 17 2014, @10:04PM

      by Angry Jesus (182) on Monday February 17 2014, @10:04PM (#1116)

      The brine returning to the ocean will quickly be rediluted in solution

      That's the environmental engineering equivalent of a "mere matter of programming."

      Even minor variations in salinity can have extreme effects on the local ecology.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by gallondr00nk on Monday February 17 2014, @07:57PM

    by gallondr00nk (392) on Monday February 17 2014, @07:57PM (#1003)

    Excellent article. In this case, TFA mentions that it uses molten salt as a heat store in order to run the process 24 hours a day. I also wonder what will be done with the other waste products?

    There's also this, quoth TFA:

    "Brent Giles, a senior analyst at Lux Research, said solar thermal desalinization's competitiveness with reverse osmosis remained to be seen."

    It'll be interesting to know how good the commercial product will be. The pilot looks exciting, but can't produce enough water for a single acre.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by istartedi on Monday February 17 2014, @09:39PM

    by istartedi (123) on Monday February 17 2014, @09:39PM (#1101) Journal

    Save the Salt [savethesalt.org] might be the answer if the toxic elements can be removed. There are plenty of salt flats in the West. As long as the salt from desalination isn't any more toxic than the existing flats, that seems like a natural place to dump it.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Khyber on Monday February 17 2014, @10:55PM

    by Khyber (54) on Monday February 17 2014, @10:55PM (#1147) Journal

    Thankfully, most of those toxic salts are toxic in heavy concentrations.

    Some of the really bad stuff is easily separated out with a centrifuge, the rest of the stuff could be easily converted over into something like SEA-90.

    Everything is usable. Right down to the extracted mercury.

    --
    Destroying Semiconductors With Style Since 2008, and scaring you ill-educated fools since 2013.