desalination [dē sā΄lə nə zā′shən, dēsal΄əzā′shəndē sal΄ə nā′shən]n.the removal of salt, esp. from sea water to make it drinkable: also desalinization [dē sā΄lə nə zā′shən, dēsal΄əzā′shən]desalinate [dē′sal′ə nāt΄]vt.desalinated, desalinatingdesalinize [dēsā′lə nīz΄, dēsal′ənīz΄]vt.desalinized, desalinizing
* * *See desalinate.
* * *or desaltingRemoval of dissolved salts from seawater and from the salty waters of inland seas, highly mineralized groundwaters, and municipal wastewaters.Desalination makes such otherwise unusable waters fit for human consumption, irrigation, industrial applications, and other purposes. Distillation is the most widely used desalination process; freezing and thawing, electrodialysis, and reverse osmosis are also used. All are energy-intensive and therefore expensive. Currently, more than 2 billion gallons (8 million cu m) of fresh water are produced each day by several thousand desalination plants throughout the world, the largest plants being in the Arabian Peninsula.
* * *▪ chemical processalso called Desalting,the removal of dissolved salts from seawater and in some cases from the brackish waters of inland seas, highly mineralized groundwaters (e.g., geothermal brines), and municipal waste waters. This process renders such otherwise unusable waters fit for human consumption, irrigation, industrial applications, and various other purposes. Existing desalination technology requires a substantial amount of energy, and so the process is expensive. For this reason, it is generally used only where sources of fresh water are not economically available.The desalting of seawater is an ancient notion. Aristotle described an evaporation method used by Greek sailors of the 4th century BC. An Arab writer of the 8th century AD produced a treatise on distillation. In the 19th century the development of steam navigation created a demand for noncorroding water for boilers; the first patent for a desalination process was granted in England in 1869. The same year, the first water-distillation plant was built by the British government at Aden, to supply ships stopping at the Red Sea port. The first large still to provide water for commercial purposes was built in 1930 in Aruba, near Venezuela.distillation remains the most widely used desalination process. Either a multiple-effect or a flash evaporator may be used. The first consists of a series of evaporators in which salt water is heated and vaporized in long, vertical tubes. The hot vapour is used to heat salt water entering the next evaporator; in doing so, the vapour is cooled and condensed into fresh water. Because the multiple-effect evaporator reuses heat, it requires less fuel to treat incoming water than a single evaporator.In flash evaporation, heated seawater is sprayed into a tank kept under reduced pressure. At this reduced pressure, the water vaporizes at a lower temperature, so that flash evaporators require less heat and thus less fuel. Multistage-flash distillation systems consist of a series of flash chambers operating at decreasing pressures. Such systems are more efficient and have greater capacity than single-stage units, and so are employed in very large desalination plants, such as the facility at al-Jubayl in Saudi Arabia that can produce 4,660,000 cubic m (1,232,000,000 gallons) of desalted water per day.In regions where salt water and intense sunlight are both abundant, a simple distillation apparatus can be used. The heat of the Sun partially vaporizes salt water under a transparent cover; on the underside of the cover, the vapour condenses and flows into a collecting trough. The principal difficulty in this process is concentrating the energy of the sunlight within a small area.Membrane processes are usually used with brackish inland water, the salt content of which, though undesirable, is considerably below that of seawater. One such process is reverse osmosis, by which brine, subjected to pressure, is forced against a membrane; fresh water passes through while the concentrated mineral salts remain behind.Another membrane process, electrodialysis, uses electrical potential to drive the positive and negative ions of the dissolved salts through separate semipermeable membranous filters, leaving fresh water between the filters.Several desalting processes make use of the fact that when salt water is frozen, the ice crystals contain no salt. In practice, however, objectionable amounts of salt water remain trapped between the crystals, and the amount of fresh water needed to wash the salt water away is comparable to the amount of fresh water produced by melting the crystals.In the late 20th century, more than 8,000,000 cubic m (2,112,000,000 gallons) of fresh water were produced each day by several thousand desalination plants throughout the world. Distillation processes are used in about half of all the plants and account for roughly three-quarters of the world's desalted water. Most of the other plants employ membrane processes. The world's desalination capacity expanded rapidly during the 1970s and '80s as the oil-rich countries of the Middle East improved their standard of living, with attendant changes greatly increasing the consumption of fresh water. The Middle Eastern countries produce about 75 percent of all the world's desalinated water. The United States produces about 10 percent, and Europe and Africa each account for approximately 5 percent. The world's largest desalination plants are in the Arabian Peninsula.
* * *