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Drought? Why Can't We Just Remove the Salt from Seawater?

With all the terrible droughts going in the world right now, including Australia and now the US, the obvious solution (especially for the island nation of Australia) would be to remove salt from sea water, but no one has figured out how to do this efficiently yet.

In LiveScience.com, Michael Schirber quotes Australian water expert Gary Crisp as saying, "Until recently, seawater desalination was a very expensive water source solution."

Why can't we just drink seawater? It's because our body can't stand so much salt, so we end up urinating more than we drink, in order to get rid of it, and thus become even more dehydrated.

But desalination is going on, all around the world: the salt is removed from between 10 and 13 billion gallons of water every day. But that's less than 1% of the worldwide water consumption. As you might expect, a lot of research on this goes on in the Middle East, where for almost 60 years, researchers have been developing membranes to filter out salt. This technique is called "reverse osmosis," and costs a lot less than the conventional method, which consists of distillation (boiling the water, which leaves the salt behind, then siphoning off the steam).

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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