July Ultrapure Water Focuses on Desalination Business, Membrane Technologies

Desalination, a key water business segment, is reviewed in the lead article of the July on-line issue of Ultrapure Water. Other articles examine pretreatment and operation of RO membrane treatment systems-- important aspects of RO desal plants.

Thirsty. In the arid regions of the world, desalination has become one of the best ways to provide additional water supplies-for drinking and industrial purposes. The July on-line issue of Ultrapure Water journal focuses on this key approach to provide more water for drinking and industrial purposes-particularly in water-short areas.

Desalination involves the use of either thermal distillation technologies or seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) to remove salt content to make ocean or brackish water suitable for drinking or industrial use.

The lead article in the issue examines the desalination water business. It notes that in 2009 there were some 14,451 desalination plants capable of producing 59.9 million cubic meters per day of water for drinking or industrial use, according to a report at the International Desalination & Water Reuse Quarterly web site. The article further notes there are another 244 plants under contract or under construction.

The desalination business can be examined from the context of capital expenditures to build new facilities, or operation and maintenance (O&M) spending to run existing plants.

The article in Ultrapure Water highlights a market study published by Nomura International plc that estimated capital expenditures on desalination projects could be $105 billion from 2010 to 2016. The largest market (56%) will be in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, followed by 13% for North America, 8% for Oceania, 7% for Europe, 3% for South America, 13% for other world regions. The largest portion of the market will be for SWRO.

Another portion of the desalination water business involves O&M spending, which would include replacement membranes and pumps, and treatment chemicals, among other items. The journal noted a study by Freedonia Group that placed the overall market for desalination products and services at $8.425 billion in 2008. The Freedonia study projects the O&M market could reach $18 billion 2018. Again, the MENA region dominated the 2008 market with sales of $5.9 billion, followed by the United States, Europe, and Asia/Pacific, which each had sales above $700 million.

The Ultrapure Water article also examines some issues involving desalination-environmental impacts, energy use, and technology development. It notes that some projects are opposed because of concern that they will harm ocean ecosystems by killing sea life and because reject water returned to the ocean can be too salty. Some groups also oppose desalination because they claim facilities use too much energy.

However, proponents of desalination would note that efforts are made to minimize damage to oceans. Also, they do not agree on the amount of electricity that opponents claim is used. The journal cites a bulletin by the American Membrane Technology Association that said that if all the currently proposed desalination plants in California were built that they would add 200 megawatts (MW), or less than 0.4% to the state's peak load of 52,000 MW.

The article closes by briefly noting work on new ways to desalinate water through the use of nanotubes, solar technologies, and wind power.

The July issue of Ultrapure Water also features other content that covers desalination or membrane technologies. An article by David Nordham, Bill Varnava, Mark Miller, and Theresa Hoffard examines water pretreatment for shipboard desalination systems. Author Jantje Johnson writes about case studies that show approaches water professionals may use to lower operation costs for running RO systems. The Back to Basics article by Robert Decker provides a primer on the differences between double- and single-pass RO.

In addition to the technical and business article, the July issue also features news briefs and information about the November Ultrapure Water Micro 2010 conference. Ultrapure Water's July on-line issue is available at http://www.ultrapurewater.com. Information on Premier Subscriptions are available at the Ultrapure Water web site, or one may also send an email to: info@ultrapurewater.com, or call 303/973-6700.

Related Media