Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Desalination Equals Money

Let's imagine that Southern Nevada decides to do the right thing and build desalination plants off the coast of California. What hidden benefits might they realize?

The present desalination technology of choice is reverse osmosis, which is energy intensive, due to the high pressures required to force water across a membrane. The desalination plants themselves, however, are not all that expensive. Which means that with new membrane technology, the cost of desalinating water will go way down. And if the plant is already built, all you'd have to do is retrofit the membranes and make some minor modifications to the pumps.

Here is the hidden benefit; modifying an existing plant would be way faster than starting from scratch. An existing desalination plant is ready to supply customers with fresh water as soon as the technology is available... While other companies would still be in the planning stage, the first plant on the block would be making profits towards building a second plant.

By installing carbon nanotube-based membranes in an existing plant, not only would the cost of desalination likely be reduced by 75%, but the volume of water would flow much faster through the plant... Translation; much higher water yields at much lower costs.

In other words, a desalination plant already in place would be in position to provide much more water than initially designed for, with far higher profits. Existing desalination plants will have a commanding lead to provide for California's massive, and growing water needs.

And the more desalination plants any company initially has in place, the more likely they will dominate the market.

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