A Pipe of Fresh Water instead of a "Canal of the Seas"

Uri Lachish, guma science

It is preferable to build a large desalination plant within the Gulf of Akaba in the Red-Sea and to drive fresh water in a pipe toward the Dead-Sea, instead of driving sea-water in a Dead-Sea Canal between them. The people living in the area of the Arabah-valley and its neighborhood will use part the water for their benefit and the rest will flow to the Dead-Sea.

Energy will be produced from the falling water along the level difference between the Red-Sea and the Dead-Sea. More energy will be produced by osmosis by “mixing” the fresh water, coming in the pipe, with the highly salty water of the Dead-Sea. The combined energy obtained by these two processes is higher than the energy required for water desalination in the initial desalination stage at the Red-Sea. The overall energy balance is positive.

Fresh water is produced by the process of “reverse-osmosis” where energy is invested in order to separate fresh water from the salt dissolved in it. Energy is produced in a process of “osmosis”, the reverse of “reverse osmosis”, by “mixing” fresh-water with salty-water. Confusing? It does work like that.

The “heart” of these two processes is semi-permeable membranes that allow the flow of water through them, but block the flow of salts. The membranes slowly wear-out during desalination and must be replaced from time to time. However, membranes that are worn-out during desalination are still good enough for the reverse process of energy production. A plant for energy production will use these worn-out membranes. Therefore, the cost of building and operating it will be lower than by using new membranes. There will be no shortage of used desalination membranes because more and more water will be desalinated by reverse osmosis in the years to come.

Driving the flow of fresh water to the Dead-Sea will not induce any environmental damage. It will resume the Dead-Sea as it was ever before the water of the Jordan-River stopped to arrive at it for many years by now.

Energy production at the Dead Sea by pressure retarded osmosis: challenge or chimera?
Sidney Loeb, Desalination, vol 120, pp 247-262 (1998)

July 2009

By the author:

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