Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fresh Water from Sea Water via MIT

The Register has an article on desalinization of seawater using microfluidic wafer technology. The power needed to make fresh drinking water for one person is something like 60 Watt. If they can scale this process and make it practical, desalinization might become economical for coastal cities. We can quit diverting rivers to quench the thirst of Los Angeles and other coastal desert cities. This would be a good thing provided we did not dump the salt back into the ocean in one spot. I wonder if the same technology can be used to concentrate gold and other precious metal ions from seawater. You could pay for your fresh water by selling the gold you extracted. One of my elementary science teachers told us Fifth Graders that if there was an economical way to extract gold from seawater, one could become very wealthy.

Alternatively, if people could be genetically engineered so that they could drink seawater without ill effects, that would be an even cheaper solution than MIT's gadget. Once the alleles exist in the population, they would confer an advantage to coastal residents, and the genes would be passed to their children the natural way for free.

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