Countries in the Middle East are known for being oil-rich. But because they are mostly located in vast deserts, there is a logical and practical shortage of potable or drinking water for people. Desalination has been one of the most important activities in such countries. It involves the process of reverse osmosis. Currently, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are among the biggest desalination markets. In general, more than a hundred countries worldwide also operate desalination facilities, but it is in those Middle East nations where demand is much more significant.
Continuous proliferation of basic desalination facilities has effectively created an $8 billion global market. It is expected and anticipated that there would still be rapid growth of demand for desalination. This is not surprising because many nations are now experiencing shortages in drinking water supply. Not only are the desert countries in peril of water shortage. Now, Spain, China, Australia, and several states in the United States are also being bogged by the problem. In such countries, growing population has effectively outgrown basic and native water supplies.
Contemporary thermal procedures for water purification use reverse osmosis. These include MED or multiple effect distillation and MSF or multi-stage flash distillation. Both are highly reliable and are effective in producing significantly purer water from even the saltiest water sources. The only setback identified as of the moment is that such processes consume very huge amount of energy. This could not be a problem in oil-rich nations, where there is much supply of energy to spare. But how about in countries where supply of available energy is limited?
Other membrane-based technologies in saltwater desalination are getting more popular and useful across the rapidly expanding desalination market. Reverse osmosis systems using membranes are the technology of choice for purifying brackish water. SWRO or seawater reverse osmosis is now becoming the fastest growing niche in the desalination market worldwide for several practical reasons. First, most countries are tending to use seawater as a good source of water for purification. The world is two-thirds water, as you know.
Second, SWRO has been the most widely used and proven effective means of desalination. Membrane desalination has been known to be able to supply the fastest demand for safe potable water. Reverse osmosis techniques are expected to further account for a greater capacity for desalination globally. Many different technologies are being developed to be integrated with and to complement the current reverse osmosis measures. It is not surprising that most industries and governments give more priority and importance to RO facilities.
Seawater is easier to secure. There could be many convenient ways on how reverse osmosis facilities could get access to a vast and unlimited supply of seawater, whether they are in coasts or are in deserts. The supply of seawater could also not end, because as mentioned, the surface of the planet is about 70% water.
In the future, it is expected that many more advanced reverse osmosis technologies would arise. Most nations are hopeful that in the coming years, drinking water shortage would not be a problem anymore. Science should be commended for discovering and inventing many technologies for reverse osmosis.
The process could be relatively slow but it could yield the best and safest results.