The earth’s surface is largely covered in water. In fact, 97.5% of all water on earth is accounted for by our oceans and seas, and as you guessed, and as alluded to in the title, this water is not drinkable.

By ducking down to the ocean and guzzling seawater, your body ultimately takes in no water at all, with your body fluids actually depleting. This is the result of osmosis. Simply put, the amount of salt in seawater cannot be removed in the same concentration, so more water (urine) needs to leave the body than has been drank, causing dehydration. Muscle cramps, dry mouth, and thirst will be the resulting dissatisfaction you’ll get.

With 10% of the world’s population, some 780 million people, without access to clean drinking water, we have time and again looked to the oceans for answers.

For thousands of years desalination has been around albeit using rudimentary techniques. The Romans used clay filters to trap salt whilst Greek sailors boiled water to evaporate fresh water away from the salt.

Today we have large desalination plants that provide water to thousands of people. Some of the biggest plants constructed to date are located in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. In Australia, Perth was the location of our first serious desalination plant. Commissioned in 2006, the plant provides nearly 20% of the city’s water needs.

There are draw backs to Desalination plants however. High capital costs, significant maintenance requirements and a shorter operating life than traditional water treatment plants can make their proposition a little less attractive.

The good news, however, is that with the rapid improvements in membrane technology and significant innovation taking place in the water space, the opportunity for desalination is becoming more available – and not just for larger cities, but for remote and isolated communities.

Desalination in an off-grid location

Part of the challenge in more remote locations is addressing the cost and availability of power to drive what is an energy intensive process. Matching the right renewable and off-grid energy with the right desalination system can provide a solution and bring expenses down. Whether using wind, solar, batteries or a hybrid system, both the ability and costs of developing and running such plants is fast becomes a reality.

With industry working more and more with advanced technologies and with innovative approaches, we can solve the problem of clean drinking water for everyone.

Saltwater? Yes we can.

Technology and Innovation working hand in glove to provide solutions.

For more information see our remote area water page.

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