Desalination is the process of eliminating salt from saline waters, usually marine waters, to obtain low salt water. This water is often used for food and for industrial usage as cooling water.
The equipment used is called watermaker. It is also improperly called a “water distiller”, perhaps because in the past all the watermakers were based on evaporation, in such a manner it is a reminder to the laymen of the desalination columns. In fact, the type of separation is not and it has never been a form of distillation.
Drinking water must not be salt-free, either for health reasons or because certain salts’ intake is recommended (this operation is however generally carried out downstream of the watermaker itself, in order to allow the addition of appropriate salts). In addition, totally de-ionized water would be completely tasteless. A small amount of salt is then left in the treated water, of the order of 25 mg / l.
Desalination by permeation is achieved through semi-permeable membranes separation. The characteristics of water and that of the discharge are similar to those of the previous type. However, it is not possible to obtain a total recovery of the aqueous part because reverse osmosis membranes do not allow the treatment of solid matter, unless an evaporation section is provided. A special case is desalination by electrodialysis.
The reverse osmosis type is used for small to large productions ranging from 1 to 10,000 m3 / h and for a similar quality to desalination by evaporation.
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