Research report

Research and development in the global desalination industry

12 Apr 2018

Desalination is becoming an increasingly common way of increasing water supplies in the face of rising demand. The wider adoption of this technology is impeded by: the energy-intensive nature of water desalination, the high costs associated with the construction and ongoing maintenance of desalination plants and the effect by-products could have on the natural environment. Research and development efforts have concentrated on improving the materials used in desalination plants, as well as the process of desalination itself. While the widespread commercial application of those investigations is unlikely to occur within the next decade, it bodes well for the future of desalination as a source of freshwater.
Key points:
- As global demand for freshwater continues to rise, there is an increased need to identify new sources of water to bolster supply.
- Desalination is one such method, particularly in arid and semi-arid parts of the world where other water supply options are limited.
- The energy intensity, cost and environmental effects of desalination remain key concerns globally, but research and development efforts are being made on each of those fronts.
- Despite some problems with Australian desalination facilities, on the whole the industry has helped to ensure that major population centres retain a high degree of climate-independent water security.

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