How Seawater Desalination May Impact the Globe

Seawater Desalination

As generally seen benign, seawater desalination is not without environmental concerns of its own. All over the world, in thermal desalination plants, seawater feed is heated to extreme temperatures, mixed with chemicals and desalted to produce fresh desalinated water, together with by-product of concentrated brine-solutions that become released back into the sea.

Today, all around the world, and in the Arabian Gulf Region in particular, much of the fresh water needs are being obtained from seawater through the various processes of desalination, which mainly include heatbased processes (e.g. Multi-Stage Flash (MSF), Multiple Effect Distillation (MED) and Vapour Compression (VC)) and membrane processes (Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO)).

Concentrated brines from MSF plants (with TDS exceeding that of the seawater-feed, elevated temperatures and containing chemical-residuals) are, regrettably, discharged into the oceans and seas without any treatment, with an overwhelming world-wide conscious-disregard to the potential of hidden dangers and virulent effects on global marine eco-systems, while the effluent temperature plays a vital role in this orchestration.

The proposed Gregory seawater desalination plant is one of several competing to be the first in operation in Texas. Italian plastic manufacturing company M&G USA Corporation had been constructing a seawater desalination plant in Corpus Christi before filing for bankruptcy last year and selling off its assets. The Port of Corpus Christi bid for the project on behalf of the city of Corpus Christi but was unsuccessful, and the site was sold to a different venture, leaving the project in flux.

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