It is predicted that by 2025 3.5 billion people will face severe shortages of fresh water. As climate change, desertification, and drought take an increasing toll, sources of clean, fresh water will be a rare commodity for many.
Desalination is not a new idea, but the process is energy intensive, and has generally been no economically viable alternative to implement in any big way. Using fossil fuels to power the process only creates more problems than it solves and is not a sustainable solution.
But that could change.
But Are We Playing With Fire?
In Mumbai, India, Pradip Tewari of the Desalination Division at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, talks of a “holistic” approach to water resource management. A plan that calls for rainwater harvesting during monsoon season combined with desalination of seawater and brackish water, using alternative and renewable energy sources in the process.
As reported in Science Daily yesterday, nuclear energy is of particular interest for an economically sensible and sustainable desalination process. From using a nuclear reactor’s waste heat to actually building “floating reactors” located offshore to fuel the desalination process, nuclear power shows potential in India.
I’m not sure what I think about floating nuclear reactors bobbing offshore exposed to the vagaries of nature and man. I assume that is something to be addressed in the actual implementation. The devil’s in the details.
In any case, exploring all the possibilities for devising a safe, sustainable desalination process to address coming water shortages represents the value of innovation in response to a changing environment; where problems present challenges, challenges becomes opportunity, and opportunity leads to solutions.