Desalination in the UK

Desalination is usually associated with hot dry countries without any rivers and hardly any rain, like

Australia or the Middle East. In fact, the UK’s first desalination plant was built in London in 2010 and soon it will start its full-capacity operation. 

The Thames Gateway in Beckton treats the water of the Thames and the sea to supply water to Londoners, providing some great results so far during the test phase.

In the plant salty and fresh water from the tidal river is mixed and salt is filtered out via reverse osmosis, applying high pressure on water, which is thus squeezed through fine membranes. Compared to an average of fifty per cent, efficiency of the plant is at 85 per cent, which means that
85 per cent of all water entering the facility can be returned as drinking water.
Furthermore, the water is so clean after the treatment that it even has to be artificially altered to
provide the same taste as what people are used to. It can supply 400,000 households, which means about one million people could start drinking
seawater thanks to this plant.

The plant is mainly to be used during long-term drought, which is very timely, as hosepipe bans in the South East have become more and more frequent. Just recently water companies announced a new ban with fines of thousands of pounds for simply washing the car at home.

Drawbacks of desalination plants include that the process itself is very expensive as well as energy-intensive but new methods are being tested and trialled on how these can be reduced. However, regardless of how many new technologies emerge, improving how we save water at home is still the key solution.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image by noomhh

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