Improved technologies provide safe and sustainable drinking water

Improvements in electrodialysis technology are creating new ways of producing freshwater. An EU-funded initiative can provide up to 2,000 litres of fresh drinking water per day.  

UNESCO estimates that around 2.2 billion people live without access to safe, clean drinking water. By 2050, up to 5.7 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year.

With seawater making up 97.5 per cent of the world’s water resource, low energy desalination solutions will be a vital component of providing sufficient levels of good-quality drinking water for a growing population.

Funded by the EU, REvivED water is now developing low-energy, sustainable solutions to address the growing demand for access to safe drinking water, according to a statement.

REvivED water brings together ten partners from six European countries to address the drinking water challenge. The project focuses on electrodialysis technology: using an electric current to make salts and other ions move out of salty water across a semi-permeable membrane.

The company has installed solar-powered desalination systems to produce fresh, clean drinking water for seven rural communities across Somaliland, Djibouti, India and Tanzania. The groundwater in these remote areas is high in salt, causing health issues in the local population. Electrodialysis technology in the REvivED system removes this excess salt without affecting the other minerals in the water that help keep us healthy, writes the statement.

Each REvivED water unit can produce up to 2,000 litres of fresh drinking water per day. Compared to other water treatment options, the units are more durable and have lower operating costs. REvivED water provides free spare parts and training to local partners to ensure that the community systems can be operated and maintained for many years to come. The systems are monitored and controlled remotely using signals sent through the mobile phone network.

REvivED water has also tested new ways of applying the electrodialysis innovations to industrial-scale desalination plants, aiming to achieve more energy efficient and cost-effective solutions. A new, multi-stage electrodialysis system for industrial seawater desalination has been successfully piloted at Afsluitdijk in the Netherlands. The project is now looking to extend these approaches to a commercial setting.

Image credit: Allison Kwesell / World Bank via Flickr

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