A technological method for the production of fresh water from seawater or brackish water. Apart from salts, most other contaminants are removed. The treatment includes distillation or membrane filtration of dissolved salts. The distillation step implies the heating of water and the collection of the condensed vapor. Membrane technologies are high-tech centralized options and may not apply to some of the developing regions.
Very expensive and requires a considerable industrial infrastructure. Low-tech alternatives exist only at household-level. A central plant may have an energy expense of USD 9/m3 water distilled. Innovations in solar and wind energy may improve future affordability (e.g. the Water Pyramid).
High-tech, central application often efficient at large-scale only (generally >100 m3/d). Trained personnel and adequate background infrastructure for parts and distribution is essential. Key management activity is the sustaining of efficiency through periodical system cleaning.
Sea or brackish water may be considered a sustainable water source in coastal areas. High energy requirements might cause high pressure on environment. Residual, with mainly salts, needs safe disposal. In most cases it can be discharged into nearby sea.
Very complex configurations. For O&M, high energy requirements and periodical cleaning. Water might become aggressive for distribution network and lack essential elements for human beings. Stabilizing or re-mineralizing processes might be required.
Desalinated water might lack essential elements for human beings (like calcium, magnesium, fluoride) making water less tasty and healthy compared to other types of water. At present only limited relevance, but increasing water stress will increase use of these technologies.
No relevant remarks for Desalination.