Water is an indispensable resource for life, and yet over 40% of people have problems accessing potable water.

    Explaining The Water Cycle
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    Around two-thirds of the surface of the planet is covered with water, but only 2.5% of this water is freshwater and just 0.3% is fit for human consumption.

    All the rest of the water, which we find in oceans and seas, is not potable due to its salinity level. How can we exploit this inexhaustible source of water for the places where it is most needed?


    What is desalination?

    Desalination or desalting of water consists of a water treatment process by which sea or brackish water is converted into potable water for supplying communities that have the most difficulty accessing freshwater.


    Desalination processes:

    There are different methods for minimizing salinity levels in water, but Reverse Osmosis is the most extensive and advanced desalination system in the world, used in over 60% of facilities worldwide.

    Reverse osmosis

    Reverse osmosis

    This is the most extensive and advanced desalination system in the world, used in over 60% of facilities worldwide.

    The reverse osmosis process consists of applying pressure to a salt water solution and forcing it through a semi-permeable membrane whose function is to allow the passage of the solvent (water) but not the solute (dissolved salts). The solvent (water) passes through the membrane, from the side where the salt concentration is highest, toward the side where the salt concentration is lower. The result is that the concentrated solution part is minimized in favor of the freshwater.

    This water treatment process can be performed thanks to the external application of energy in the form of pressure, which overcomes the natural osmotic pressure of the solution.

    Distillation

    Distillation

    The process consists of heating water to the point at which it evaporates and then condenses to obtain fresh water. This desalination procedure is performed in various stages, with the temperature and pressure decreasing in each stage until the desired result is achieved. The heat obtained from the condensation also serves to distill the water again.

    Freezing

    Freezing

    This desalination process consists of pulverizing sea water in a refrigerated chamber at low pressure. This results in the formation of ice crystals over the brine, which is then separated to obtain freshwater.

    Flash evaporation

    Flash evaporation

    In this process, the water is introduced in the form of fine drops into a chamber at below saturation pressure. Some of these water drops immediately convert into vapor, which later condenses to form desalinated water. The remaining water enters another chamber at lower pressure than the former and repeats the process until the desired outcome is achieved.

    Hydrate formation

    Hydrate formation

    This desalination process is not used on a large scale as it is technologically difficult. The process consists of adding hydrocarbons to the saline solution, forming complex crystalline hydrates which are later separated to obtain desalinated water.

    Electrodialysis

    Electrodialysis

    This desalination process consists of the phenomenon by which an electric current is passed through an ion solution. The positive ions (cations) migrate toward the negative electrode (cathode), while the negative ions (anions) head for the positive electrode (anode). Semi-permeable membranes are placed between both electrodes so that only Na+ or Cl- can pass through, and the water contained in the center of the electrolytic cell is progressively desalinated, obtaining freshwater.


    What is reverse osmosis water treatment?

    This is the most extensive and advanced desalination system in the world, used in over 60% of facilities worldwide.

    What is Reverse Osmosis Desalination?
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    The reverse osmosis process consists of applying pressure to a salt water solution and forcing it through a semi-permeable membrane whose function is to allow the passage of the solvent (water) but not the solute (dissolved salts). The solvent (water) passes through the membrane, from the side where the salt concentration is highest, toward the side where the salt concentration is lower. The result is that the concentrated solution part is minimized in favor of the fresh water, which increases in quantity.

    This water treatment process can be performed thanks to the external application of energy in the form of pressure, which overcomes the natural osmotic pressure of the solution.


    desalination process

    How does a desalination plant operate?

    In this infographic, we show you how the reverse osmosis desalination process works, from the moment the salt water is taken from the sea, to the obtention of potable freshwater ready for use and consumption:


    WHAT DOES ACCIONA DO IN THE AREA OF WATER TREATMENT?

    ACCIONA works to guarantee people’s access to water, from capture to purification or desalination, clean-up and return to the environment.

    Comprometidos con un futuro sostenible (2017)
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    ACCIONA undertakes the management of end-to-end services which involve all the stages involved in water treatment: readying it for human consumption, supplying it to the population, then cleaning up urban and industrial waste water. The company also takes care of invoicing end users.

    Find out more about what ACCIONA does in the area of water treatment

       

       


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