Credit: Land Art Generator Initiative

Meet the Pipe: a beautiful desalinization plant that might one day serve 1.5 billion gallons of water to California

Credit: Land Art Generator

Credit: Land Art Generator Initiative

Khalili Engineers from Canada came up with an innovative solution — and a strikingly beautiful one to boot — to California’s growing water shortage problem. Their solution is “The Pipe” — a solar-powered offshore desalination plant that could serve pure drinkable water into the city’s primary water piping.

The company that designed the Pipe say the huge structure would employ electromagnetic desalination, which is a cheaper, simpler method than those currently used in mainstream engineering. The technology, which is only three years old, involves running a voltage through a chip filled with seawater, which then neutralizes chloride ions in the seawater creating “ion depletion zones”. This change in the electric field is sufficient to redirect salts into one branch, allowing desalinated water to pass through the other branch.

The Pipe

Credit: Land Art Generator Initiative

To power this process, Khalili engineers claim all the required energy would be supplied by solar panels that can generate 10,000 MWh each year. In turn, the Pipe uses this energy to produce 4.5 billion liters (1.5 billion gallons) of drinking water from the sea, as well as clear water with twelve percent salinity.

“The drinking water is piped to shore, while the salt water supplies the thermal baths before it is redirected back to the ocean through a smart release system, mitigating most of the usual problems associated with returning brine water to the sea,” Khalili Engineers said.

The project is a finalist for this year’s Land Art Generator Initiative, an annual design competition that challenges  artists, architects, scientists, landscape architects, engineers, and others to design sustainable solutions to leading environmental problems. The artistic component has to be there too because the organizers believe problem solving can be enhanced with aesthetics.

Credit: Land Art Generator Initiative

Credit: Land Art Generator Initiative

“The sustainable infrastructure that is required to meet California’s development goals and growing population will have a profound influence on the landscape, ” say Rob Ferry and Elizabeth Monoian, co-founders of the Land Art Generator Initiative, in a press release. “The Paris Climate Accord from COP 21 has united the world around a goal … which will require a massive investment in clean energy infrastructure.”

For now, this project is just a pipe dream, but if there’s interest — and by interest I mean cash — this innovative solution to a very complex problem might one day dock off the shore of some important Californian city.

5 thoughts on “Meet the Pipe: a beautiful desalinization plant that might one day serve 1.5 billion gallons of water to California

  1. Pingback: California Water and Drought News for August 30, 2016

  2. tibipuiu

    Yeah, it's terrible . But if you can get it from sustainable energy and given demand, it might make sense to use them at a large scale. Desperate times, I guess.

  3. Sally

    The project did not address the main issues with desalination today, regarding the more expensive parts of the whole process which is actually the pre-treatment and the post-treatment. Moreover, the desalination itself isn't very expensive and electromagnetic desalination hasn't fully proved yet to be working in big scale and to be much cheaper than working methods today

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