Engineers and policymakers have come to realise that challenges of world water and energy supplies are intrinsically coupled. Modern industry is both energy and water intensive. This has led to calls for new technologies to improve the energy efficiency of the world water systems.
From natural scarcity in Saudi Arabia to economic scarcity in the slums of Chennai, India, the cause of water scarcity are diverse. From the recycling of water in Singapore, the relocation of water across California and the desalination of water in Perth, engineers have conceived of equally diverse solutions. In summary, we can think of four primary solutions: Reduce, Reuse, Relocate, Desalinate.
This talk outlines the current status and the future of desalination. Historically, desalination involved thermally driven evaporative systems but improvements in efficiency afforded by modern membrane technologies have seen reverse osmosis dominate the world desalination market. Modern and future technologies will be a discussed and an MIT project to build a small scale autonomous desalination system for communities suffering for economic water scarcity in India is described.
Ronan is a graduate of UCD Mechanical Engineering and a currently a Fulbright fellow and doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy at MIT where his current research focus is upon enhancing the efficiency of large scale and autonomous small scale thermal desalination systems.