Some may point to the fact that the majority of Earth is covered with water and not understand why we need to conserve water. However, the water of the ocean does not provide fresh water, and while it’s possible to make ocean water drinkable, the process is energy intensive, expensive and creates an issue with the use of chemicals and waste disposal.
All this makes conserving fresh water as important as ever. However, even as those efforts continue, scientists and researchers continue to investigate making ocean water drinkable. Here’s a look at some of the challenges they face.
Why You Can’t Drink Ocean Water
First, here is the reason why you can’t drink ocean water: it’s saline water. The salt can be removed through a process called desalination, but as noted above this process is not easy.
That’s why conserving fresh water is a big issue. There’s a limited supply that nature recycles. Running low on water could lead to all kinds of issues, including inflated costs for the water that is available, problems with the food supply, potential conflicts between nations and eventually a health crisis for those without access to adequate water.
In short, a scene right out of a dystopian science fiction movie.
It’s important to note that just because we can’t drink ocean water, the oceans are key to the survival of the planet. They are the world’s largest ecosystem. They also generate about half the air we breathe and hold 97% of the world’s water.
Challenges With Desalination
The challenges of desalination of ocean water are lengthy, but many of them fall within the following three categories.
Desalination requires a ton of energy to work properly. Huge plants are built to treat the water with chemicals that remove the salt. Those chemicals include chlorine, hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide, according to science. Most plants use reverse osmosis through high-pressure treatment systems to convert the water, a process that requires a lot of energy to work.
Waste Disposal and Impact on Ocean
There are potential dangers in the chemicals used in desalination getting into drinking water, as well as the disposal of the waste created by desalination plants and the plants’ possible impact on ocean-living creatures that require salt water to survive.