Aug. 12, 2016
- Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here – Rowan Jacobsen
Mediterranean seawater pumped from an intake a mile offshore is transformed at Israel’s new Sorek desalination plant into enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people. The plant is the largest reverse-osmosis desal facility in the world. Just a few years ago, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus.
That remarkable turnaround was accomplished through national campaigns to conserve and reuse Israel’s meager water resources, but the biggest impact came from a new wave of desalination plants.
Biofouling has always been an Achilles’ heel of desalination. Desal works by pushing saltwater into membranes containing microscopic pores. Microorganisms in seawater quickly colonize the membranes and block the pores, requiring periodic costly and chemical-intensive cleaning. But Israel has developed a chemical-free system using porous lava stone to capture the microorganisms before they reach the membranes.
Branching off from the main line where the Sorek water enters the Israeli grid is a simple spigot, a paper cup dispenser beside it. I open the tap and drink cup after cup of what was the Mediterranean Sea 40 minutes ago. It tastes cold, clear and miraculous. (Scientific American)