Desalination of Seawater

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Title:Desalination of seawater. By: Trexler, Roger Dale, Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science, January, 2015 Database: ------------------------------------------------- Desalination of seawater Last reviewed: March 2015 Desalination of water is an often-disputed subject where climate change is concerned. Scientists are unsure whether desalination will have a major effect on Earth’s climate. Background The removal of salt from seawater is an ages-old process that has become a multimillion-dollar industry. The demand for freshwater, especially in arid regions, has driven people to create and implement new and more effective ways to remove salt from water. Desalination occurs naturally as part of the hydrologic cycle. The Sun evaporates water from the ocean. The vapor, condensed by cooler air in the atmosphere, forms rain clouds. The rain from these clouds reaches the ground as pure liquid water. Earth’s ecosystems are dependent upon this process. Port Stanvac Desalination Plant (under construction). View from the north (Hallett Cove/Lonsdale border area). By User:Vmenkov (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons All artificial desalination processes are based on the natural hydrologic cycle. For the most part, the energy requirements to desalinate seawater are heavy, making the process expensive. Still, it is estimated that 30 percent of the world’s irrigated areas suffer from salinity problems that prevent crops from flourishing as they would if freshwater were available. The need for desalinated water for human and crop consumption is critical in the Middle East and other regions where freshwater is not abundant. Distillation The most fundamental form of desalination is distillation, one of the earliest forms of water treatment. Ancient

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