Around the world countries are drying up, the rising average global temperatures cause water to stick around in the air, instead of raining down. Australia is one of the hardest hit, where the natural graslands used for cattle is simply turning into desert, and farmes are crying because they get no more support.
Water has been touted as a commodity, where the CEO of Nestle said of course everybody has a right to a basic ration of water, but above that, its a free market! We are now seeing all the signs of an attempt to corner humanity as a whole in a scarce water market. If the global economy has any power, it will succeed in forcing us to pay for every drop in the near future. After all being fossil credit slaves, we will become water credit slaves.
How do we know? Because the videos about desalination are misleading. Below video is called “Solving the worlds water crisis” but it is actually a story of two technologies, one really and how there are drawbacks so we should not want either of them. True.
Not all options are mentioned..
The options described are evaporative desalination and reverse osmosis or RO. RO is the most common form and there is a simple reason for it : It is complicated and generates (fossil) cashflow. It requires high pressure pumps and pipes and a lot of energy. This is the dumbest thing to do if you want to be water secure, but if you want to get rich as an industry cooperating with banks and energy companies, its the bomb.
The risk of this ‘economistic’ approach is clearly demonstrated now in Zimbabwe. It has a big desalination plant serving millions, but it can’t afford the fuel anymore, so now millions are suffering, the elderly dying, because they adopted a technology that is economically desirable, but existentially risky. And this is the technology that is put forward to ensure money will always play a role in desalination.
We notice that descriptions of other ways to desalinate are disappearing from Youtube. One very good example we can’t show but it was one of the cheap methods. There are three at lease :
1. Freeze desalination
2. Vacuum evaporation destilation
3. Ionic desalination
Simply put when water freezes it forms a lattice that pushes ions out. Salts fall apart in water, into Natrium Na+ and Cloride Cl- for example. These ions are what makes the water salty. If you freeze water the molecules H2O get closer together, and squeeze the Na+ and Cl- out. So you can simply cool water until you get an ice slush, pick out the ice, thaw it, repeat the cycle until the ice is fresh enough. This is waaay more energy efficient than boiling water, or RO.
Vacuum Evaporative Destillation
Water boils at about 100 degree Celsius at sea level. On top of Mount Everest it boils around 71 degree Celsius. The energy required to make water boil is enormous. So boiling water to desalinate is very energy intensive. The simple solution is to lower the air pressure so water boils at a lower temperature. Create a low enough air pressure and water boils at ambient temperatures or even below freezing! Of course it is easier to create such a vacuum than to push the water through a RO filter at high pressure, it is waay cheaper!
Ionic desalination comes in several forms. The key idea is to pull on the Na+ and Cl- (which we will allow to stand for all salts in this post). They are charged particles. If you create an electric field through water the + particles will move in the opposite direction of the – particles. The water itself will stay where it is. This is one way to separate out the salt from the water.
If you let the water with the salt flow thorugh a magnetic field you will also cause the + particles to move in another direction than the – particles, and the water will again flow as if nothing happend (even though it is a polar molecule, we are no 100% sure). This is also a way to separate out the salt! It is even a way to generate electricity!
Last but not least the – particles will be able to move through a positive charged membrane, while the + paricles will be repulsed. Same with a negative membrane. If you create a setup where the water can flow straight but the particles can move to a positive or negative compartment through a negative or positively charged membrane, you are also desalinating!
temperature swing solvent extraction (TSSE)
Salts bind to amines, which can be separated from the water by increasing the temperature (not boiling it)
The fossil fuel economy wants to sell fossil fuel, and this is done by promoting technology that consumes fossil fuel. Why would it want this? Because the fuel is traded in USD, credit and banks live off supplying and managing it. Renewables will cause a serious drop in work for banks! The products we are supposed to buy today all have this ‘bank tax’ build in, and this is why the stories about water do not include ‘low yielding’ technology, meaning low yielding for banks!!
We are however moving into the Roboeconomy, which is the economy where robots running on renewables make almost everything and are also restoring the ecosystem. Renewables change the equation, and banks are NOT part of that equation.
Right now all technology has to make money for banks, has to be super optimized within that constraint, all because even though banks want to profit, they also want to last long, so the rate of consumption of fossil fuels should be low. In reality the oil and gas companies are flaring (even without burning) 8 million car years worth of methane every year, but that loss doesn’t hit them. The take home message is that with renewable energy you don’t have to be super efficient. The irony is that all of the above desalination technologies ARE more efficient, up to 80%!!
So water is becoming more scarce, and if we all listen to the mass media we feel there is no way out. That is because they help capturing us mentally and physically so we can work in the water economy. This economy is mostly created out of a misplaced extrapolation of current economic thinking. If you want to escape that scenario help promote the above better ways to desalinate, you will certainly save lives and make people happy. And you will help usher in the Roboeconomy!