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Going Beyond Traditional Solutions

Introduction to Industry

Desalination is the process of removing salt and other minerals from seawater, making it safe for human consumption and other uses. Seawater desalination is an important solution for addressing water scarcity in areas with limited freshwater resources. With over 70% of the earth's surface covered by water, seawater desalination can provide an abundant and reliable source of water for human use.

Current Challenges

Despite its potential to provide a reliable source of freshwater, desalination faces several challenges. One of the primary challenges is its high energy consumption, which can result in high operational costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The use of fossil fuels to power desalination plants also contributes to climate change. Additionally, the brine and other waste products generated during the desalination process can have a negative impact on marine ecosystems if not properly managed. Another challenge is the high capital costs of building and maintaining desalination infrastructure. This can make it difficult for lower-income communities and countries to adopt the technology.

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Furthermore, desalination can be vulnerable to natural disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, which can damage or disrupt the operations of desalination plants. These challenges underscore the need for continued research and development of new desalination technologies that are more energy-efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable.

What's Being Done Now?

There are several treatment processes for desalination, including reverse osmosis, thermal distillation, and electrodialysis. Reverse osmosis (RO) is currently the most widely used desalination technology, accounting for over 60% of global desalination capacity. In RO, seawater is forced through a semipermeable membrane under high pressure, which separates the salt and other minerals from the water. Thermal distillation, which involves boiling seawater and condensing the vapor to produce freshwater, is typically used in large-scale desalination plants. Electrodialysis uses an electric field to remove ions from the water, and is often used in combination with RO or thermal distillation. While these treatment processes are effective at producing potable water from seawater, they require significant energy inputs and can be expensive to operate and maintain. Ongoing research and development efforts are focused on improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of desalination technologies, as well as exploring alternative sources of freshwater.

What Hydroleap Brings to the Sector

Hydroleap has partnered with the NUS Environmental Research Institute (NERI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) to develop a low-cost electrochemical pretreatment technology for seawater desalination. The SGD 1.7M project aims to advance NUS's and Hydroleap's work in commercializing disruptive technologies from the lab to the real world. This project utilizes electrocoagulation (EC) as a pre-treatment method to remove various contaminants such as turbidity, microorganisms, colloids, total dissolved solids, and silt density index from raw seawater. Compared to existing chemical pretreatment methods, EC is more cost-effective, providing a 50% reduction in operational costs with a specific power consumption of 0.002-0.007 kWh/m3 of effluent. This electrochemical pretreatment technology will enhance the efficiency and sustainability of seawater desalination processes, making it more accessible and affordable for communities worldwide.

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