Desalination research aims to halve energy use

Singapore's Environment and Water Industry Development Council has handed out a SDG$4m research grant to develop desalination technology that could halve energy consumption.

Siemens Water Technologies won the funding from the EWI to develop the technology at its Singapore-based global research and development centre.

The company says it can reduce the amount of consumption by at least 50% compared to the best existing desalination methods – to a level of at least 1.5kWh per cubic metre.

The reduction would be even higher compared to most operating desalination plants, which can consume as much as 10kWh per cubic metre.

Many criticisms of expanding the use of desalination to ease water shortages have focused on its intensive energy use, which flies in the face of efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

“We truly consider this developing technology a breakthrough in the desalination market, with significant global implications on water resource management and the wider use of desalination in the future,” said Chuck Gordon, CEO of Siemens Water Technologies.

The grant was part of EWI’s Challenge RFP scheme, and will be used to investigate an innovative process devised by Siemens to remove salts from seawater in an electric field.

Mr Gordon added: “By setting the bar high, EWI challenged innovators to creatively apply science and engineering to the reduction of energy consumption.

“We are grateful to the Singapore government for their continuing support of water-related research and leadership in the world water community.”

Research will mainly be carried out by staff at the company’s centre in Singapore, which opened late last year, working in conjunction with researchers in the US.

Siemens are then planning to unveil the finished technology in Singapore.

Kate Martin

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