Home/The Wave-Powered Revolution in Desalination

The Wave-Powered Revolution in Desalination

November 8, 2023

In the quest to quench the world’s ever-growing thirst, a Canadian start-up, Oneka Technologies, is making significant waves—quite literally. Led by Chief Innovation Officer Susan Hunt, Oneka has developed a groundbreaking floating desalination system, turning the relentless motion of the ocean into a source of life: fresh water.

Unlike traditional desalination plants that guzzle massive amounts of energy to strip salt from seawater, Oneka’s buoys dance with the waves, requiring no electricity, no fossil fuels—just the rhythmic pulse of the sea. As Hunt puts it, “The ocean is an unforgiving place, but our technology is designed to operate there.” It’s a testament to human ingenuity, a machine in harmony with nature’s ebb and flow.

This innovation comes at a critical time. The International Desalination Association reports that over 300 million people now depend on desalinated water, with demand set to rise amid increasing populations and climate-induced water scarcity. The world is at a pivot point, needing to shift away from fossil fuel-dependency, and Oneka’s solution is a beacon of sustainable progress.

The magic happens with buoys anchored to the seabed, utilizing a membrane-based reverse osmosis system. These floating devices harness wave energy, translating it into mechanical pumping action that draws in seawater. Approximately a quarter of this intake is then pushed through Oneka’s desalination system, and voilà—fresh water is piped to shore, without a kilowatt in sight.

Oneka’s approach is not just energy efficient but also environmentally conscious. The brine byproduct, a concern in traditional desalination due to its detrimental effect on marine life, is significantly less concentrated and mixed with untreated seawater before being released back into the ocean, mitigating the creation of “dead zones.”

Furthermore, Oneka’s buoys are designed with scalability in mind. These modular units can be clustered to increase output, promising a solution that grows with demand. The largest model can produce a staggering 49,000 liters of drinking water per day, enough to sustain a small town.

As Oneka prepares to commercialize their buoys next year, they are not alone in their quest for sustainable desalination. Across the Atlantic, Dutch firm Desolenator employs solar panels to fuel their desalination plants, embodying a circular economy by converting waste salt into a commercial product.

Experts like Chedly Tizauoi, a professor of chemical engineering, acknowledge these renewable-powered systems as a step in the right direction. However, they also remind us of a fundamental truth: conservation is key. As we innovate, we must also educate and encourage responsible water usage.

As technology advances, it is clear that our relationship with water is entering a new era. Innovations like those from Oneka Technologies and Desolenator not only provide a lifeline in a world of growing water stress but also represent a harmonious partnership between humanity and the environment. The tide is turning, and with it, our hopes for a sustainable, water-secure future are riding high on the waves.

Photo by by Muffin Creatives from Pexels

Original Article: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-67237006

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