Chapter 1Introduction to Desalination

Jane Kucera

Nalco Water/an Ecolab Company

Corresponding author: Jane Kucera (


The availability of fresh water on the planet is finite, and natural fresh water makes up only about 0.5% entire water supply on Earth. This limited supply, coupled with the growing population of the Earth and the growing industrialization of many developing countries, is driving global fresh water stress and scarcity to the point where more fresh water must be found to meet future needs. Methods to “find” more fresh water include conservation and reduce/reuse/recycle of existing fresh water sources, moving fresh water from water-rich regions to water-poor regions, and “creating” fresh water from other sources, such as oceans and wastewater, using desalination. Of these methods, desalination has proven to be a very viable technique to meet current and future fresh water needs in many areas around the world.

This introductory chapter discusses the history of, and drivers for desalination, and also provides a framework for the detailed discussions about various desalination technologies and opportunities to use renewable energy sources to power the desalination technologies that are presented in this book.

Keywords: Desalination, water scarcity, thermal desalination, membrane desalination, reverse osmosis, renewable energy sources

1.1 Introduction

Desalination: from the root word desalt meaning to “remove salt from” [1]. By convention, ...

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