Experts claim that the global water deficiency poses a bigger problem for the human race than the climate change. More than a billion people do not have access to secure drinking water supply. Especially in sparsely populated areas without any infrastructure is it a daily struggle for survival.
According to UNO statistics die more than five million people (1,8 million children) yearly because of contaminated drinking water.
Desalination plants perform a possible solution for the drinking water shortage.
But conventional desalination procedures are very complicated, enormously costly, require a fully developed infrastructure and specialist to be maintained. But the major problem is the high amount of demanded energy and the undesirable environmental pollution.
A solar desalination plant’s photovoltaic panel could contribute enough energy and would not pollute the environment. Regions like Africa, Asia, South America and southern Europe that suffer the most under a lack of water could easily be provided by the combination of desalination and solar energy.
Companies like Helio Tech or I.B.M. are pioneers on this field.
IBM and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology are opening a solar-powered desalination plant in the city of Al-Khafji. The project shall provide water to about 100,000 people and pump out about 30,000 cubic meters of potable drinking water per day.
In this case the team uses a purpose-build nanomembrane that filters out salts as well as potentially harmful toxins in water while using less energy than other forms of water purification.
The solar-powered desalination plant will be the biggest on the planet and still hopefully just the beginning.