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Peak salt: is the desalination dream over for the Gulf states?

Peak salt: is the desalination dream over for the Gulf states? thumbnail

Gulf states are among the most water-scarce in the world. With few freshwater resources and low rainfall, many countries have turned to desalination (where salt is removed from seawater) for their clean water needs.

But Gulf states are heading for “peak salt”: the more they desalinate, the more concentrated wastewater, brine, is pumped back into the sea; and as the Gulf becomes saltier, desalination becomes more expensive.

“In time, it’s going to become impossible to use desalination in a way that makes economic sense,” says Gökçe Günel, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona. “The water will become so saline that it will be too expensive to desalinate.”

The Middle East is home to 70% of the world’s desalination plants – mostly in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain. Tens of billions of dollars, $24.3bn (£18.8bn) in Saudi Arabia alone, are being invested over the next few years to expand desalination capacity.

The process is cost and energy intensive; it pumps seawater through special filters or boils it to remove the salts. The resulting brine can be nearly twice as salty as normal Gulf waters, according to John Burt, a biologist at New York University Abu Dhabi.

But the 250,000 sq km Gulf is more like a salt-water lake than a sea. It’s shallow, just 35 metres deep on average, and is almost entirely enclosed. The few rivers that feed the Gulf have been dammed or diverted and the region’s hot and dry climate results in high rates of evaporation. Add in a daily dose of around 70m cubic metres of super-salty wastewater from dozens of desalination plants, and it’s not surprising that the water in the Gulf is 25% saltier than normal seawater, says Burt, or that parts are becoming too salty to use.

Peak salt, says Günel, mirrors the concept of peak oil, a popular concept in the 1970s used to describe the point in time when the maximum rate of oil extraction had been reached. “Peak salt describes the point at which desalination becomes unfeasible,” she says.

And studies have shown that the Gulf will only get saltier in the future. Raed Bashitialshaaer, a water resources engineer at Sweden’s Lund University, says that the growth of desalination plants in the region is happening far faster than his own 2011 study estimated.

With groundwater sources either exhausted or non-existent and climate change bringing higher temperatures and less rainfall, Gulf states plan to nearly double the amount of desalination by 2030 (doc). This is bad news for marine life and for the cost of producing drinking water – unless something can be done about the brine.

Farid Benyahia, a chemical engineer at Qatar University, believes he has a solution. He recently patented a process that could eliminate the need for brine disposal by nearly 100%. The process uses pure carbon dioxide (emitted during the desalination process by burning fossil fuels for power) and ammonia to turn brine into baking soda and calcium chloride. Whether the process is cost-effective remains to be seen but Benyahia believes it could be, especially if markets are found for large volumes of the end products.

Other efforts are also under way to reduce desalination’s country-sized carbon footprint which globally accounts for 76m tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – nearly equivalent to Romania’s emissions in 2014.

The Global Clean Water Desalination Alliance was formed in 2015 to tackle this problem by increasing efficiencies and shifting to renewable energy sources, such as solar-powered desalination. Saudi Arabia expects to have a commercial-scale plant operational by 2017 and in California, a proposed solar-powered desalination plant combines innovation, efficiency and design.

Water pricing, says Günel, is also becoming critical to improving water efficiency in the Gulf.

“Climate change policymakers in the region are pushing for water pricing and awareness campaigns around consumption to explain to governments and citizens that they can’t continue to use water in the same way.”

the guardian



84 Comments on "Peak salt: is the desalination dream over for the Gulf states?"

  1. ghung on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 8:29 am 

    fukling’s trollish rant is off topic and unsupported.

  2. Cloggie on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 9:20 am 

    Attack hillary and you attack ghung. ghung maybe NWO green-left, that won’t stop him from backing the Clinton’s over the only green-left president the US ever had, Jimmy Carter.

    http://efergy.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/obama-solar-panels-on-white-house.jpg

    You have to admit f* rant is worth his salt, so it is not really that off-topic.

    [snicker]

    Jimmy Carter was a lefty, a big plus to become US president. His green credentials could be tolerated. Where the deep state support for Carter stopped though was that he let Iran escape from the empire.

    Next was the ostensible right-winger Reagan. But behind his back the infamous neocons entered the scene, pretending to be right-wing, but in reality neo-Trotzkyite: right-wing bluster to achieve commie goals (One World). From then on it was full spectrum dominance in US politics for the Tribe and the Reps became the stupid party (supporting mass immigration of those who will never vote Rep). Thanks Reagan or rather we should say thanks Dick Cheney. Cheney was the nemesis of the Republic Party. He was responsible for the rise of the neocons “under” Reagan and he went along with the neocon scheme to set up 9/11. It was him who issued the stand-down order so the 9/11 false flag could proceed unhindered.

    Back on topic.

    Message to Saudi-Arabia: send your oil-tankers filled with oil to Rotterdam and we will send them back filled with clean water from the Rhine river, good enough for agriculture that is.

    Price: 1 liter oil = 1 liter water.

    We’ll clean the oiltanker for ya before filling it with water, so no filtering will be necessary.

    Deal?

  3. ghung on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 9:32 am 

    CloggSpinner said; Attack hillary and you attack ghung…”

    Are you disputing that fukling’s trollish rant is off-topic and unsupported?

    I challenge you to show any proof at all that I support Clinton. Any at all. As usual, Cloggo, you are just making shit up and being dishonest. Lying sack of shit, you are. However, you can put one fact in your very short list of truths; I consider Donald Trump to be insane and a clear-and-present-danger.

  4. Cloggie on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 9:52 am 

    I consider Donald Trump to be insane and a clear-and-present-danger.

    That’s my point. You may not like Hillary on a personal level (who does?) but in your eyes she is the lesser evil, because she is backed by the US deep state. You want her to win and not Trump. It’s political, not personal.

    Since the Peak Oil Messiah isn’t going to descend from heaven anytime soon, people are excused for going off-topic regularly. You never complain if they do except now, which is of course strongly linked to the content of the off-topic anti-Clinton rant, which was the real reason why you intervened.

    For the rest it is satisfying to see my NWO opponents ghung and Friday going apeshit these days for the slightest of reasons. I can sympathize with that. After all, you didn’t want to be a commie 1.0 in 1988 either.

  5. ghung on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:08 am 

    Just more false rationalisations, Cloggie; pure fabrications. AKA: Lying.

  6. Apneaman on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:16 am 

    Attack Trump and you attack old Dutch. Sensitive as a teenage girl when her boy band idol is attacked. Never have I seen a non American so possessed with yet another mean nothing American election. Life in Holland must be pretty fucking boring or maybe old dutch is too scared of the muslims to go outside? Why are you so obsessed clogged? You don’t have a vote, don’t live in the US. I bet Trump, like most americans, could not pick out the Netherlands on an unlabeled map.

    As wealth and power has continued to concentrate over the decades and an ever growing number of decisions and legislation go the way of special interests, there has been only more coverage of these mean nothing elections, plastic politicians and more faith/emotion by the sheeple that they matter, when it has been clearly proven that they don’t. Why it’s almost as if the sheeple’s attention, through simple psychological manipulation, is being diverted from other matters and solely focused on two plastic peoples personalities.

    Major Study Finds The US Is An Oligarchy

    “The U.S. government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern universities has concluded.”

    http://www.businessinsider.com/major-study-finds-that-the-us-is-an-oligarchy-2014-4

    Testing Theories of American Politics:
    Elites, Interest Groups, and Average
    Citizens

    https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

    Anyone who still believes an American election is going to make one damn bit of difference in the lives of Non Club members is no different than the 16 year old who still believes in Santa Claus. Doubly so for non club members from foreign countries on the other side of the Atlantic ocean.

  7. ffkling on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:16 am 

    Cloggie: “His Green credentials could be tolerated.” What does this mean?

    Then you say Carter “let” Iran escape the US empire. What would you have suggested? A full invasion of Iran to reinstall the Shah? You really have some screws loose.

    Jimmy Carter designated more wilderness areas than all other presidents combined.

  8. ffkling on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:19 am 

    To gDUNG

    Fuck you too, douche bag. I was responding to Davy’s comment so bugger off.

  9. ghung on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:23 am 

    Off-topic and a rant. I stand by that.

  10. ffkling on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:28 am 

    Cloggster, you are correct in your analysis that gDUNG is nothing more than a Clinton sycophant. Dung must really be proud of himself. I consider the Dung a perfect negative indicator for doing the opposite. I will be sure to cancel Dung’s Clinton vote with a vote for Trump.

  11. ffkling on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:33 am 

    “Off-topic and a rant.” Maybe so, but there’s not one goddamn thing you can do about it except bitch. More off-topic rant’s coming soon so stay posted.

  12. ghung on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:34 am 

    ffkling said; “Cloggster, you are correct in your analysis that gDUNG is nothing more than a Clinton sycophant.”

    Again, prove it. I have been critical of Clinton in many forums, and have said without hesitation that this election’s presidential choices are “horrible”, “awful”, and “dangerous”. But feel free to join Cloggie in posting falsehoods.

  13. Cloggie on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:41 am 

    Carter “let” Iran escape the US empire. What would you have suggested? A full invasion of Iran to reinstall the Shah? You really have some screws loose.

    Huh? Where did I say that I resented that Iran escaped? It was the US empire that resented that, not me.

    Jimmy Carter designated more wilderness areas than all other presidents combined.

    In the past I always liked Carter as at least an honest and well-meaning man. And a little naive.

    Today I consider him as yet another Christian, ready to piss his country away to the third world. Ah well, at least he is principled and not afraid of the true masters of the US (now that he is no longer in office):

    http://www.allenbwest.com/allen/jimmy-carter-leads-democrat-charge-anti-semitism

    Never have I seen a non American so possessed with yet another mean nothing American election. Life in Holland must be pretty fucking boring

    Friday as usual is completely missing the point what this election is about. Trump is an intruder into the US political system with the potential to blow it up completely. Ghung, who is at a least a standard deviation smarter than Friday, understands that very well. This election is the most meaningful in decades. Previous intruders like JFK and to a much lesser extent Nixon, were stopped by the deep state before they could become dangerous for the um… lets call them banking interests.

  14. Davy on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 10:42 am 

    Friends, Ghung doesn’t like any political personality today I know of. There are a few historic individuals he has referenced in a positive way but very few. Ghung is not political as far as I can tell. In fact he is a believer in dropping off the radar screen.

    How can an intelligent person be political today? All politics is corrupt. The system is corrupt. To have a political persuasion today is to be compromised.

  15. Apneaman on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 1:51 pm 

    Old dutch is so naive that he does not understand the pin on the grenade that is the US political system was pulled and thrown into the abyss decades ago. Anyone as emotionally invested as you clog is blinded by your biases and false hopes. As far as I’m concerned all those with deep emotional investments in this, theater of the absurd election, including my own mother, are slaves to their primitive tribal emotions. Not all that unusual for the humans, but the level is through the roof and into the stratosphere. The emotions can never be completely mastered, but they can be managed/dialed down. It takes time, effort humility and logic to learn how to manage one’s baser emotions as it is counter intuitive to the default setting of the highly emotional political ape. In all these babbling political predictions the one thing I never hear is any mention of the many powerful entrenched bureaucracies. Like any POTUS can just snap his fingers and they will jump even if it’s to their detriment. These are massive late stage bureaucracies and they can ruin a politician’s popularity and plans with a couple of phone calls and keystrokes grind things to a crawl. They are almost impossible to get rid of and about the only response available is to create a redundant bureaucracy with your own appointed people to do what the others won’t. This is why there are so many redundant bureaucracies. What is there like 17 security bureaucracies now in the US? It’s a clusterfuck and the idea that one man or woman can move them against their own interests (status quo) is the height of naivety. I tire of these over simplified descriptions of how the system works and all the fantasy bullet lists of changes Trump or Hillary or any puppet political is going to make. Immature minds confusing their hopes and fears with reality. Humans.

    Old Dutch, so how about an official prediction from the Netherlands leading basement dwelling political analyst?

    Who gonna win?

    Methinks the war witch will win.

    I would prefer it if ManChild won just for the sheer entertainment value.

  16. Cloggie on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 4:42 pm 

    Dunno Friday. Like so many I did not expect the outcome of the Brexit vote. What I do know if how America will come to its end:

    http://www.unz.com/freed/undocumented-shopping-legacy-of-an-african-president/

    If la Clinton will win everybody will understand that the days of European-America are over and whites will become fair game. That’s the signal for a Yugoslavia scenario.

    If Drumpf wins there is a chance this scenario can be postponed for a couple of years. Drumpf winning is the signal for the Europeans to get tough with their satraps 1989 style and buddy up with Russia, rearm and declare ourselves the protector of European America… and wait for the inevitable to happen… and intervene and the landgrab will begin.

  17. makati1 on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 5:21 pm 

    Ap, good analysis. The US is doomed in so many ways and the sheeple refuse to, or cannot, see it. I never thought I would get to see an empire fall, but I now have a front row seat to this collapse.

  18. onlooker on Sat, 1st Oct 2016 5:56 pm 

    “It takes time, effort humility and logic to learn how to manage one’s baser emotions as it is counter intuitive to the default setting of the highly emotional political ape.” Great line. Me thinks we have been sorely lacking in all this acting hastily to develop technologies, without the humility to know if they were prudent to develop. Acting so much with emotion rather than understanding how connected we are in this world and that it is in everyone’s interest to try and get along and try and protect the Environment. No the emotional illogical reigned supreme. All the thoughts of many of you capture all this quite well.

  19. MALCOLM AW on Sun, 2nd Oct 2016 2:43 am 

    Power plant discharge and concentrated brine flushed into the sea have disastrous impacts on marine life and destroy aquatic species, particularly those in egg or immature phase.
    WATERL’EAU PLC’s Disruptive carbon neutral Concentrating Solar Power Massive Seawater Desalination Technology turns brine into “molten salt” which becomes a source of thermal energy. WATERLEAUX provides a “Restorative Solutions” to a positive climate change-back, effecting climate change in a positive way through application of massive water recovery, generation & reforestation technology by producing inexhaustible forever supply of water for sustainable livelihood and socioeconomic development so as to improve environmental health and well-being.

  20. Apneaman on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 1:03 am 

    Stupid Engineer Tricks

    http://www.dailyimpact.net/2016/10/02/stupid-engineer-tricks/

  21. DerHundistlos on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 7:06 am 

    Thanks for the clarification, Davy, that you and your side kick, gDUNG, hate all political leaders, past and present. What a sad group.

  22. DerHundistlos on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 7:16 am 

    Cloggie: you claim to be Dutch when in fact you are an American ex-pat. What a fraud.

  23. ghung on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 8:04 am 

    DerHundistlos said; “Thanks for the clarification, Davy, that you and your side kick, gDUNG, hate all political leaders, past and present. What a sad group.”

    Thanks for the clarification that you’re an idiot who wouldn’t know a clarification from his ass.

  24. ghung on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 8:15 am 

    Hey Planty; still think this DDoS is my imagination? Ready to apologise?

  25. ghung on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 8:26 am 

    Admin: Can’t log in due to DDoS. Posted this as a guest. Maybe you should close the board to new accounts and delete the hundreds of new accounts created in the last two days. BTW: What happened to the DDoS notice that was up last night?

  26. Cloggie on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 8:31 am 

    Cloggie: you claim to be Dutch when in fact you are an American ex-pat. What a fraud.

    Any proof to back that claim up, krautie?

    I am as Dutch as you can get. I was 10 days in Manhattan in the nineties, even stood on top of one of the WTC towers and that’s it concerning my “American experience”. Oh wait, I flew over Miami ca. 2002, flying from Havanna to Amsterdam and I admit watching Oprah early nineties when we got CNN in the cable package.

    Meanwhile the destruction of the chancellorship Angela Merkel got another big boost today:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqsSXRxHlDQ

    The fool decided it was a good idea to celebrate the day of German unity in Dresden, the bulwark of anti-NWO resistance.

    Won’t be long until she will resign/kicked out of office.

    Yesterday the Hungarian anti-gate crasher referendum got 98% approval, but the turnout was 45% rather than the required 50%, which was celebrated in all western commie media as a “defeat” for Orban. In reality the referendum was sabotaged by a minority of lefties who simply didn’t show up as they were advised to do.

  27. ghung on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 8:43 am 

    Cloggo claims to know a lot about the US for someone who spent only ten days in NYC. I guess I know all about the Netherlands because I spent a week in Amsterdam. What fun we can have, the two of us, eh Cloggie?

  28. Cloggie on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 9:08 am 

    It is absolutely necessary to be located in the Appalachians to be in a position to judge diverging phenomena such as fracking, peak oil, climate change, overpopulation, Trump and what not, right old chap?

    Where would we be without ghung, I am asking you?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillbilly

  29. Apneaman on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 12:19 pm 

    Old Dutch, you just put your foot in your mouth again. The Appalachians run thousands of km over two countries and encompass millions of peoples and their regional sub cultures. North Carolina is not west Virginia you fucking know nothing moron.

  30. Cloggie on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 12:50 pm 

    The Appalachians run thousands of km over two countries and encompass millions of peoples and their regional sub cultures. North Carolina is not west Virginia you fucking know nothing moron

    Friday, there is nothing in my post from which you might deduce that I am not aware of these facts.

    From the Wikipedia link:

    Hillbilly is a term (often derogatory) for people who dwell in rural, mountainous areas in the United States, primarily in Appalachia and the Ozarks, Uwharrie Mountains and Caraway Mountains.

    No qualifications regarding West-Virginia or North-Carolina.

    Now back to your porn, jailbird NWO trash.

  31. Apneaman on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 1:17 pm 

    Old dutch, you’re probably better off letting it slide when you get shown up. Flip flopping and trying to weasel out of it makes you look even smaller.

    What’s with your anti porn obsession? Hell it’s more popular than gum chewing. Is it because you can’t get it up anymore? Sour grapes huh. Limp dicked and limped wristed – ouch!

  32. Cloggie on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 1:39 pm 

    You never told us why you went to jail. Burglary? Rape? Drug dealing?

  33. Joe D on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 2:42 pm 

    Peakoil.com website seems to be down a lot. I wonder what the problem is?

  34. peakyeast on Mon, 3rd Oct 2016 3:19 pm 

    It seems beyond idiotic to use oil for desalisation in an area like the Persian Gulf. With vast amounts of sunshine almost all the time they could easily use the sun to evaporate water.

    But I suppose someone much smarter than me has thought about it and found that oil has no value at all locally nor in the future and therefore its very clever to use it for energy intensive operations that need to go on forever?

    Who knows – maybe they calculated that there was no future in which case it all makes a little sense at least. Nevermind that what they are doing is one of the reasons why there is no future for them.

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