5 proposals for extracting water from the sea and air

Despite recent rains, much of Catalonia remains in an exceptional drought situation, with restrictions on the use of water from the public network and restrictions on certain uses. Scientists expect that climate change will make the lack of rain, albeit with ups and downs, chronic. According to data from the World Resources Institute, by 2050 One third of the world’s GDP will be exposed to water stress.

The sea can be an inexhaustible source of water, and several initiatives have already begun to take advantage of it for everyday uses, giving it the necessary treatments and adapting facilities that until now were designed for fresh water. In the “Value Added“We have collected some examples of this, as well as others aimed at water conservation and use.

Sea water for swimming pools

A pipeline connects across the seabed to a well in the port of Blanes, where A tanker extracts seawater. This is the water intended for filling swimming pools. This company has specialized in these services after participating in October at the Pool and Wellness exhibition at the Fira de Barcelona.

Ana María Sánchez is co-owner of Piscines i Aigua de Mar: “We were asked to fill all the swimming pools at the fair with seawater because the drought decree had already come into effect, and from there we were exposed to one of the tanks. We started receiving a lot of calls, information and requests…and from the beginning January we fill the complexes.”

They pass water through it Various filters and treatments To get rid of potential residue, algae and bacteria, thus adhering to the health regulations of swimming pools. They have as clients other companies that were already engaged in this freshwater business, but also campsites, hotels and individuals.

Seawater, in addition to being unaffected by restrictions, It has other advantages, because it does not have to be treated with chlorine. “It’s water that has the properties of the sea. People with psoriasis, people with skin problems, people who can’t swim in a pool that has chlorine for their eyes, because a seawater pool has those benefits.”

With everyone, They are extremely corrosiveThis is because it contains a very high percentage of salt, reaching 37 grams per liter in the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, the wastewater treatment plants in these ponds must be modified, otherwise they will rust very quickly and stop working.

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Swimming pool pumps are corrosion resistant

Espa is a historic manufacturer of water pumps, which has developed a filtration system for swimming pools with all its components, from rubber, plastic and metal parts, prepared in good conscience. Able to withstand sea water for a long time.

Ramon Vasquez is the Industrial Director: “The challenge was to make sure that our pool pump could not oxidize internally. We have had a specific principle since the beginning of the company, which is that we want all pumps to last, to be recyclable, to be replaceable, and to There are spare parts, and they are easily repairable.”

A swimming pool fills up at La Scala
A swimming pool fills up in La Scala (ACN)

According to Espa’s general manager, Josep Perich, his pumps are made to be repaired: “They are made to last.”

The other problem is that when cleaning pool sand filters, Seawater cannot be thrown into the drain. Ramon Vazquez: “After doing a few more laps, we decided to make a second, smaller filter that would take all that dirty water from the backwash and put it back into the pool.”

“Every time we shower, we do something which is take the filter, clean it a little and then put it back. This way we make sure that all the water that used to be thrown into the drain is no longer thrown away.”

Desalination plants in the sea

Another possibility to benefit from seawater is desalination plants. A ship equipped with a large crane places a metal box into the water in a Norwegian fjord. It is an underwater desalination plant. The Norwegian company Waterise has received a patent for a device that turns seawater into fresh water Lower energy consumption than ground-based desalination plants.

The water filtration process is used by reverse osmosis, like other desalination plants, which separates salt and other minerals. But it is more energy efficient, because at a depth of 400 metres, water is already entering the membranes under high pressure.

Niels Peter Wright, CEO of Waterise: “Because we sail underwater and use hydrostatic pressure, that is, the weight of the water on our heads, we can save energy. We save between 30 and 40%. It depends a little bit on the salinity and temperature… that kind of thing “

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The desalination plant connected to the ground via a pipe is capable of generating 50 thousand cubic meters of water per day, enough to supply 400 thousand people. Peter Wright: “Right now, there are a billion people who depend on desalination in one form or another. We see the need for desalinated water growing dramatically.”

Underwater desalination plant from Waterise
Underwater desalination plant from Waterise

Desalination plants are designed here

Water restrictions that affect many municipalities also apply to ports, affecting the supply of drinking water to ships. A company from Vilanova i la Geltrú, Dessal, designs and manufactures Seawater purifiers for boats. The presence of these desalination devices means that boats do not have to load water in port and therefore do not suffer from restrictions.

According to Xavier Portillo, industrial engineer and director of Desal, the salt “reduces dramatically”: “You can have water that is practically irrigation water. Then, this water They use it for bathingOr on large ships they use them for services, washing machines, dishwashers, kitchens… and in the end it is a necessary service for the ship.”

Salt water is injected under pressure into the membranes and fresh water comes out at the end of the process. This technology also allows them to create large desalination plants on land, and they are seeing increasing interest from municipalities and hotels. According to Portillo, they conducted studies for a local council to create “systems that could supply water to an entire coastal city.”

“We create the designs and send these large facilities out of Catalonia to be manufactured for us, we can implement them and we can always provide the technical service.”

Removing water from the air

But in addition to seawater resources, water scarcity also generates initiatives of all kinds to obtain and conserve water.

Children at a school in Jendouba, a village located inside Tunisia, did not have access to drinking water. Now they can drink it thanks to a shoe-shaped machine developed by Cumulus, a French-Tunisian startup. It extracts water from the air and can be installed anywhere Because it can work with solar panels.

“The idea is to replicate the phenomenon of morning dew,” says Ihab Triki, co-founder of Cumulus. “So what happens? We see the air coming in from here and passing a filter to clean it of pollutants. Then it goes into the machine to be cleaned of pollutants.” Cool it down and we reproduce the dew.”

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Using a machine like this, it is possible to remove water from the air
Using a machine like this, it is possible to remove water from the air

god It can produce between 20 and 30 liters of drinking water per day. Promoters hope they can help other countries in times of water scarcity as well. “More than 20% of the population in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria do not have access to drinking water, so we can provide them with this machine so that they can produce what they need. Secondly, it reduces the plastic bottle and bottled water transportation process.”

Start saving water

Here, on the other side of the Mediterranean, although there is also a shortage of water, the problems are different. To address this, it is necessary to make progress in savings in agriculture and industry as well as in domestic consumption. One service that generates greater water expenditure is, for example, car washing. Plazy is a company that offers one Cleaning the car at home does not require water.

They already have about thirty electric carts that they take to a customer’s parking spot. From Barcelona they are expanding throughout the state.

David Brea is the founder of Plazy: “What we do is dry wash, that is, we use specialized biodegradable products for each material of the car and this allows us to save a lot of water.”

“We use less than half a liter of product per wash. Thus, we save an average of 100 to 150 liters of water per vehicle.”

The price of the service is Above the washing tunnel This makes its customers mainly company car fleets and dealer workshops, as well as those who do not have time to go and wash them. According to Priya, they have “services for cleaning fleets, hotel clients, and sports clubs, and here we see that many companies are asking us to do that, to save water. But we see that the end consumer is what they value most. Now it is easier to do it at home.”

Apart from dry cleaning, it is also starting to appear in the market Tunnels containing water recyclingThus, consumption is significantly reduced.

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