Desalination water storage tanks: what you need to know
Fab Tanks desalination water storage tanks are capable of holding large volumes of desalinated water that is suitable for human and animal consumption as well as irrigation. These water tanks are in demand in the coastal regions of South Africa where you find large-scale desalination plants, particular in the Western Cape.
Freshwater scarcity drives the need to provide desalinated water tank solutions for everything from drinking and cooking water to irrigation and livestock use. The number of desalination plants that have been established in recent years in South Africa has grown as has the demand for large high-quality water storage tanks that are suitable for desalinated water.
What is desalinated water?
Desalination is the process of separating dissolved salts and other minerals from feedwater to produce water that is fit for human and animal consumption. Basically, desalination means changing non-potable seawater into potable freshwater.
The process is typically associated with converting seawater into usable freshwater but it’s also used to remove minerals from brackish water, wastewater, industrial feedwater and process water.
The desalination process itself relies on either distillation or high-pressure reverse osmosis which is energy intensive and therefore costly. With reverse osmosis, salt in the water is forcefully pushed through a semi-permeable membrane. The water passes through the membrane but the salt particles do not pass through it, much like a large-scale sophisticated sieve.
The salty extract is usually carried away as concentrated brine but, in some regions, it’s extracted as solid salt. The concentrated brine is an environmental hazard if not disposed of responsibly, particular when pumped back into the ocean.
However, the major drawback of water desalination is the amount of energy it requires. Salt dissolves easily in water but it forms strong chemical bonds and these bonds are difficult to break down without expending extreme energy in the process. The cost of that energy production and the actual desalination technology is costly.
Why desalinated water tank solutions are needed
South Africans, recent years, have had an ever-present threat of freshwater scarcity, particularly riding on the back of one of the worst droughts the Western Cape has suffered in over a century.
In 2010, the southern Cape was declared a disaster area when it experienced its worst drought in over 130 years. Between mid-2017 and 2018, Cape Town suffered the second of its ‘worst-ever’ droughts when water in municipal dams dropped to less than 10% of their usable capacity.
In fact, the region waited with bated breath for Day Zero when it was anticipated the City of Cape Town would quite literally run out of water; municipal water supplies would be switched off and residents would have to queue for daily freshwater rations. The country elsewhere was not much better off as extremely dry conditions and low rainfall persisted across the southern Africa region.
The growing need for desalinated water
At present, approximately 1% of the world’s population depends on desalinated water to meet their daily needs but the United Nation expects that to dramatically increase to 14% by 2025 as water scarcity becomes a global threat. Countries that have traditionally relied on rainfall or rainwater harvesting will look to water desalination for fresh, usable water.
71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water and the oceans hold about 96.5% of all Earth’s water. From space, Earth looks like a water planet because there is far more water than land; however, more than 99% of Earth’s water is not fit for consumption. This includes humans, animals and plants.
More so, only about 0.3% of Earth’s fresh water is found in the surface water of lakes, rivers and swamps. Throw alleged global warming and extreme water pollution into the equation, and the availability of fresh, usable water now and in the future looks dire.
Saudi Arabi is the largest desalination capacity in the world, with a daily production capacity of 117 million cubic feet. It has 27 desalination plants spread along the country’s coastline as well as the largest floating desalination plant in the world, with the capacity to produce 882 867 cubic feet.
Other arid countries that follow in Saudi Arabi’s wake include countries such as United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Aruba, Australia, Egypt and Chile.
South Africa’s capacity to produce desalinated water is vastly scaled down but there has been positive movement is this sector as the need to secure stable sources of freshwater become more paramount by the decade. It’s envisaged that by 2035, up to 10% of South Africa’s urban freshwater supply will be supplied by desalination plants.
Fortunately, advancements in desalination technology are pushing down operating costs and there’s a move towards using solar energy to power these plants.
Speak to us for more information on our top of the range desalination water storage tanks suitable for storing large quantities of desalinated water. Fab Tanks Africa supplies desalination water storage tanks that are produced using galvanized panels that are corrosion resistant and durable. These tanks are customized to your site specifications.