A team of American scientists claims to have invented a system that could allow the capture of ocean moisture to transform it into drinking water, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
With climate change, “we are going to have to find a way to increase the supply of fresh water, because conserving and recycling water from existing sources, while essential, will not be enough to meet human needs”, Praveen Kumar explained, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), one of the authors of the study, published last December 6th. “We think our proposal can achieve this on a large scale”, he estimated.
Instead of being lost in the atmosphere, the water-saturated air would be captured by extraction structures, located on the coasts, to be later condensed and transported through pipes to suitable deposits. Compared to classical desalination, this method would have an important advantage: by evaporating and turning into gas, seawater loses almost all of its natural salt. That is why rainwater is not salty.
Having less energy consumption
Recycling into drinking water would therefore require much less energy consumption. And also it would not be necessary to use products such as brine, which are harmful to the environment. According to these scientists, offshore wind farms and onshore solar panels could help feed the purification circuit.
The researchers believe that this technique reproduces the natural system but in a directed way. “A 210 m wide and 100 m high ‘vertical capture surface’ could supply a sufficient volume of extractable moisture for the daily drinking water needs of approximately 500,000 people”.
The scientists rely on a simulation from 14 places where there are water supply problems, such as Los Angeles or Rome. According to the models, this type of device could generate between 37.6 billion and 78.3 billion liters of water per year, depending on local conditions. “Climate projections show that ocean steam flow will increase over the years, providing even more fresh water”, said report co-author Afeefa Rahman.