How Technology Can Help Provide Everyone with Clean Water
22 Oct 2012
As our population continues to grow at an increasing rate worldwide, our natural resources are quickly becoming scarce. Our ability to provide clean water for our needs, from agriculture to drinking water, is one of the most pressing environmental issues that we are currently facing. Thankfully, recent advances in water technology have allowed us to come up with innovative ways to provide the world with clean water.
For many people, the lack of water isn’t a problem, but finding clean water is. Sustainable water filtration is one of the most helpful technologies when it comes to purifying water. There are many areas in which the only accessible water is contaminated, and so sustainable water filtration systems can make the difference between life and death. There are many low-tech methods, such as the Eliodomestico, which only uses the sun to purify water.
Water filtration systems are helpful for individuals and families, but what about filtration on a much larger scale? Desalination is the process that removes some amount of salt and other minerals from saline water. Salt water is desalinated to produce fresh water suitable for human consumption or irrigation. Along with recycled wastewater (which is explained later in this post), this is one of the few rainfall-independent water sources. However, current desalination technologies use a lot of energy, and some desalination plants are harmful for the local environment because of the high saline levels. Thankfully, there are many companies that are looking for cleaner and less expensive ways to clean water. For example, Oasys Water has been developing an inexpensive desalination technology that uses a combination of forward osmosis and heat to turn sea water into drinking water.
An estimated 90% of wastewater goes untreated, and new technologies in wastewater treatment and reuse could use that normally-wasted water to reduce our need for clean water. Satellite reclamation plants remove flows from nearby sewers to produce reclaimed water closer to the use area. This approach can reduce the need for infrastructure such as pumps and pipes. Another technology called membrane separation technology involves the separation of liquids from solids, using a variety of methods. Wastewater treated using membrane technology can actually be rendered clean enough to be potable.
Fog and dew harvesting are innovative processes that offer a water source for dry areas of the world. Fog collection refers to the collection of water from fog using large pieces of vertical canvas to make the fog condense into droplets of water and flow down towards a trough below the canvas. Some designs are designed to harvest water from both fog and condensation in arid regions, and others are atmospheric water generators suited for more humid areas.
These water technologies, among others, will help us provide the world with clean water, as well as improve our water conversation methods.