Saudi Arabia’s secret weapon: desalination

In the not-too-distant future, desalination could be the secret weapon of another major world power: Saudi Arabia. The country is already one of the largest producers of desalinated water in the world, and that’s just a minor use case for this process. With almost no natural freshwater sources left, Saudi Arabia has begun to ramp up its desalination efforts. Neom, Saudi Arabia’s sustainable city is set to build a water desalination plant by 2024. As a result, we could see an increased supply of fresh water from this nation sooner than we think. 

What is Desalination?

Desalination, which is also known as desalinization, is the process of converting salty water into fresh water. It’s a technique that has been around since at least the 7th century when the Chinese first used it. Although the process has been around for a while, it’s only in the last few decades that it has become an important process in many parts of the world. There are three main methods of desalination: thermal, osmotic, and reverse osmosis desalination.

How Does Desalination Work?

Let’s start with thermal desalination. This method uses a series of steps to convert salty water into fresh water. First, salty water is heated so that the salt becomes a liquid. Then the heated saltwater is put into a vacuum chamber, where the salt vaporizes and is captured. The remaining water is cooled and returned to a liquid state. This water is then run through a series of filters to remove as much of the salt as possible. Next, we have osmotic desalination. This method works by reducing the amount of salt in the water until it is almost completely gone. The water is then purified and turned into fresh water. Osmotic desalination is often combined with reverse osmosis desalination. Finally, we have reverse osmosis desalination. This method uses a special membrane to filter out any impurities in the salty water. The resulting fresh water is then pumped out and used for drinking, growing crops, or watering livestock.

Why is Saudi Arabia Doing This?

Saudi Arabia has been hit hard by water shortages in recent years. The country’s aquifers are being depleted, and the country is experiencing unsustainable rates of water use. As a result, Saudi Arabia has begun to look for solutions to its water crisis. And that’s where desalination comes in. Desalination has been around for a long time. But recent breakthroughs have made it much more efficient and affordable. For example, new energy-efficient desalination plants can use as much as 50% less energy than previous models. The cost of desalination is also dropping. Thanks to the falling price of renewable energy, it’s now cheaper to run desalination plants than to pump groundwater.

The NEOM Green Hydrogen renewable energy project is a joint venture among NEOM, ACWA Power and USA’s Air Products. It is set to produce 650 tons of hydrogen daily and mitigate the impact of 3 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. NEOM will be climate-friendly and cost-effective as wind speeds can go up to 11 meters a second and the country is solar-intensive. Using renewable energy in water desalination will also boost the city’s green hydrogen production, which could be supplied to other countries. 

Desalination is a process that has been used for thousands of years. It has been used by cultures all over the world, and it has now become a central part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy to deal with water shortages. As technology improves, we will see even more desalination plants pop up in Saudi Arabia, as well as other countries facing water shortages. That will help ensure that countries have enough water for drinking, farming, and other uses. It’ll also help prevent people from having to go without water in times of drought.