Worldwide, desalination operations are set to grow from a capacity of 39.9 million cubic meters per day at the beginning of 2006 to 64.3 million cubic meters per day in 2010 to 97.5 million cubic meters per day in 2015. Over a nine year period - - growth in desalination is projected to increase by a factor of 2.5.
Energy consumption is a big, but improving issue with desalination operations. Call it the "Fifth Fuel" - - conservation, energy efficiency, energy productivity - - all of these terms will be increasingly important in the future development of expanded desalination operations. Reducing the cost and KWhs per 1,000 gallons of treated water will have a huge impact on our ability to increase the supply of fresh water independent of existing ground and surface water supplies.
A leader in this field is Energy Recovery Incorporated, a firm located in San Leandro, California. The firm invented, patented and commercialized an energy recovery solution for the desalination market. The equipment, PX Pressure Exchanger (PX), saves energy in high pressure hydraulic operations by using the principle of positive displacement and isobaric chambers to achieve higher energy transfer from a high-pressure waste stream (such as the brine from a reverse osmosis desalination unit). According to Energy Recovery Incorporated, the PX is 98% efficient, losing little energy in the transfer (according to the firm, they have 10 million unit hours of operating experience).
This is good example that demonstrates the potential power of greater energy ingenuity - - where the focus is less energy required to accomplish certain activities, whether it is treating water to moving people about to heating homes - - look to this becoming a global phenomenon this century.