the first commercial reverse osmosis (RO) plant commenced operations in 1965. today, nearly all new desalination plants use this proven and trusted technology. RO was initially a power hog, but the energy consumption of RO has improved drastically over the decades.
The production of fresh water from sea water or other contaminated water when seen against all the vast and varied industrial activity of the modern world may seem a small thing. But unless it is provided it could prove to be the nail for lack of which the whole battle of civilisation might be lost, even if we solve the energy supply situation.
Prof. Robert Silver, Desalination (1979)
proper pretreatment, chemical dosing, and design guidelines: much time, effort, and money is spent to keep a desalination plant running nearly 24/7/365. reliability is paramount when producing an essential resource, and the name of the game is keeping the membranes clean.
…new ideas based on new science. Self-fertilizing plants. Bacteria that can synthesize biofuels. Safe nuclear energy technology. Affordable desalination at scale. It takes time for new-science technologies to make the journey from lab to market…
MIT President Rafael Reif (2015)
we’ve reconfigured RO as a batch process. this allows us to push the limits of energy-efficiency, water recovery, and plant productivity without sacrificing membrane longevity. all that’s required is actuated valves, a bladder vessel, and water tanks. more affordable desalination, within reach.