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posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 22, @02:42AM   Printer-friendly

BBC - Could nuclear desalination plants beat water scarcity?

There are communities on every continent running short of water, according to the United Nations. Unfortunately, although our planet is swathed by oceans and seas, only a tiny fraction of Earth's water - about 2.5% - is fresh, and demand for drinking water is projected to exceed supply by trillions of cubic metres by 2030. Desalination plants, which remove the salt from seawater, could help supply the fresh water needed. However, these plants are considered among the most expensive ways of creating drinking water- as they pump large volumes across membranes at high pressure, which is an extremely energy intensive process. One radical solution could be using floating vessels equipped with desalination systems.

Powered by nuclear reactors, these vessels could travel to islands, or coastlines, struck by drought, bringing with them both clean drinking water and power. "You could have them moving around on an intermittent basis, filling up tanks," says Mikal Bøe, chief executive of Core Power, which has come up with design for this type of desalination plant.

It may sound far-fetched but the US Navy has provided desalination services during disasters in the past, with the help of its nuclear-powered ships, while Russia already has a floating nuclear power station designed to potentially power desalination facilities.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Hartree on Wednesday June 22, @06:21PM (1 child)

    by Hartree (195) on Wednesday June 22, @06:21PM (#1255422)

    You've hit on the one thing that may be politically harder than building nuclear power plants or long-distance high-tension lines.

    These water wars have been going on without respite for over a century in the west and I doubt we'll see much hope in politics. Technical solutions are easier, but still hard because of artificial political barriers. (Example: why keep using spray irrigation when drip irrigation is far more water efficient? Well, because we've always done it that way and if we use less water, we'll get our allocation cut. Welcome to Catch 22).

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @04:41AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @04:41AM (#1255525)

    You can bet your bottom dollar that if the roles were reversed and California farmers had to cut back so that Colorado farmers could get 'their share' it would have been fixed a century ago.