Fresh water consumption is increasing at an alarming rate not to mention irrigation. Fresh water comprises only 1%, where does the rest come from?
As stated by General Electric, “The world’s water consumption rate is doubling every 20 years, outpacing by two times the rate of population growth.” In the future, fresh water will be in short supply and today, many parts of the world do not have ample supply, now.There is a critical need of additional water resources. As the need becomes greater the liquid gold, or water, could become so critical that world stability and unrest may be affected. Only 1% of the Earth’s water is fresh, the question comes up; where will water come from to meet the needs of the present and future? The answer is obvious, the oceans. Everybody knows we can’t drink salt water. Why?
What makes up salt water is primarily salt and minerals. According to the USGS, the following comparison is clear. With these numbers, ppm stands for parts per million.
Fresh water- less than 1,000 ppm
Slightly saline water- From 1,000 ppm to 3,000 ppm
Moderately saline water- From 3,000 ppm to 10,000 ppm
Highly saline water- From 10,000 ppm to 35,000 ppm
Ocean water- 35,000 ppm
Oceans comprise 97% of the world’s water, it is obvious where the future lies but to answer the question of how to drink saltwater, a technology was developed, desalinization.
- Desalinization or Desalination
This is the process of removing salt from seawater, our oceans, to produce drinkable water for human consumption. Nature is our best example, the hydrologic cycle. Simply put, water is heated by the sun, evaporates and condenses into fresh water with salt as the by-product. A simple process that has been used by humans throughout ancient times.Today there are several available options but the key is cost-effectiveness. Each must be evaluated for the specific region, economics and need.
- Distillation or Vacuum Distillation
“Over 60 % of the world’s desalinated water is produced using heat to distill fresh water from sea water”. Following natures lead, salt water is heated under pressure producing vaporization and condensation into a clean water product.
- Reverse Osmosis
A competing process uses membranes to separate the water from its salts. Typically, this process uses less energy than a distillation approach.
- Other Methods
A few other methods exist today such as: freezing, solar, iceberg towing, to name a few. With common water problems and the ever increasing need for clean water, new technologies are being developed. The key is cost effective solutions to the present and future needs for liquid gold, fresh water.