Nuclear Desalination and Global Water Demand 

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Global water demand is expected to continue to grow at a similar rate by 2050, reflecting a 20-30% increase above the current level of water consumption, primarily due to increased demand in the industrial and regional sectors[20]. More than 70% of the earth is covered by water, 97% is salt water, leaving 3% as fresh water, yet 1% is readily available for use. [21].Desalination from seawater has become an increasingly sought-after alternative to the current global water supply crises. Salinity in seawater, expressed in parts per thousand, has been observed to range from about 34 to 37 parts per thousand. [13]. Desalination is a process in which salt and mineral components are removed from saline water to produce potable water, divided into two different categories: membrane process and thermal process.

Overcome the semi-permeable membrane barrier. Pressure driven forces include Reverse Osmosis (RO) and nanofiltration (NF). Electric potential driven processes include Electrodialysis (ED). Concentration driven process includes Forward osmosis (FO). Reverse Osmosis (RO) uses a semipermeable membrane to remove ions and larger particles in leachate. Reverse Osmosis processes is the choice for most seawater desalination applications as it has several applications in treating wastewater [14].

In thermal evaporation processes, water is evaporated from a saline solution after the vapor is condensed to produce purified water that includes multistage flash (MSF), multiple-effect distillation (MED), and vapor compression (VC). Multistage flash and multiple effect desalination’s energy sources for evaporation come from the direct heat exchange from steam. Vapor compression’s energy source for evaporation comes from the compression of the vapor. 

During the desalination process, only 50% of potable water will be produced. The other half will be highly toxic brine. According to recent research, 141.5 million cubic meters of brine are generated by desalination plants each day, while only 95 million cubic meters of fresh water are produced. Tossing back this brine into the ocean can be harmful to marine life. 

The quantity of brine produced can be reduced by using a more efficient desalination process called reverse osmosis (RO). It requires less cost, energy, and generation of brine. In order to sustainably desalinate, plants should switch over from thermal desalination. Seawater desalination plants utilize over 200 million kilowatt-hours of energy each day. Reverse Osmosis (RO) consumes lower energy, down to three to 10 kilowatt-hours per cubic meter. Researchers are still looking for more eco-friendly methods to treat seawater. 

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Current researches are made to find substitutes for non-fossil sources to generate desalination plants. .With the projection of a rise in nuclear energy capacity by 2030 to 496GW (e) and by 2050 to 715 GW (e). It represents an increase of 25% compared to current expectations by 2030 and 80% by 2050[22]. Generating 11% of global electricity production with more than 440 operating nuclear reactors around the world and 53 under construction [4-5] . Nuclear desalination generates potable water from an automated co-locating facility where a nuclear reactor is used as the source of electricity and heat with higher energy density in small (SMR) and medium reactors, not significant due to economic risk, using MSF, MED and RO desalination processes.

Since 1990’s many researches were conducted by the coordinated research projects (CRP) with IAEA to improve the reliability, efficiency and costs of nuclear desalination resulting in the discovery of its significant advantages, 1) the possibility of increasing the plant efficiency while decreasing the total cost, 2) creating an environmentally safe system. That concluded with it being certified by IAEA as one of the most efficient and promising options for freshwater production and power generation [1].

An economic analysis study was presented for a capacity of 348,000 m3/day for PWR with backpressure steam turbines compared to fossil fuel plants. Estimated with a lower specific product water cost (0.79 $/m3) than for fossil fuel power plant (1.21 $/m3). The main focus is to minimize environmental impact; thus, one of the primary goals is eliminating any possibility of radioactive wastes leakage outside the plant coming from the primary reactor coolant, by improving the design and performance of nuclear reactors due to public concerns.

An effect may occur on the costal and land by causing disturbance to the natural habitat during the construction of the facility [6] that is why nuclear power generation is an efficient system since it requires less operational area of 0.75 acres/MW less than for solar power generation technologies (6.75)(196). In addition to better land use, nuclear plants often require a reduction in the direct use of building materials, including concrete and stainless steel. The energy source used in desalination plants has implications on the environment. In this sense, nuclear desalination plants have the least impact on the environment relative to other desalination plants.

Plants have been verified. [1-3th The first nuclear desalination plant was a cooled liquid metal fast reactor BN-350 located in Akatu, Kazakhstan, with a capacity of 80,000 and 26 reactor-years. It provided over 150,000 people and industry with fresh water. There are different types of reactors, both terminated and ongoing nuclear-powered desalination in different locations. The experience gained with the Aktau reactor is unique as its desalination capacity was orders of magnitude higher than other facilities.

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