Drinking water is becoming more scarce. Is desalination the solution?

  • 11.09.2022
  • Fast Company

Clean freshwater is critical for sustaining human life. However, 1.1 billion people lack access to it worldwide. Desalination represents an increasingly popular way of addressing this.

Desalination is the process of extracting salt from saline water to make it drinkable. There are two main types of desalination.

In the first–called thermal desalination–heat is used. This produces water vapor that condenses on pipes into fresh water. This process remains dominant across the Middle East, where nearly half of the world’s desalinated water is produced.

The second process is membrane desalination, commonly referred to as reverse osmosis. This process is used in 60% of plants worldwide. Saline water is forced under high pressure through a semi-permeable membrane whose pores are too small for the salt molecules to pass through.