Via BigThink, Discovery reports on an ambitious plan to bring life to the arid deserts of Jordan by using seawater and solar greenhouses:
A structure, called a seawater greenhouse, will capitalize on the abundance of sun in Jordan and use it to evaporate seawater and condense it into fresh water. While this happens, a naturally cool and humid environment will be created — perfect for growing crops.
Energy to run the facility will come from a concentrated solar power plant, which will use mirrors to focus sunlight onto pipes of fluid. The super-heated fluid boils and the steam is captured to drive a turbine generator, which produces electricity.
Though arid coastal locations are ideal, a forest project could still be used further inland. Several arid areas in the Sarhara are below sea level, making it relatively inexpensive to deliver water to the facility without costly pumping fees. The Qattara Depression in Egypt, for example, is about 435 feet below sea level — a drop that could be exploited for hydro-electric power, too.
The open question is always going to be cost, but the ambitiously-named Sahara Forest Project apparently already has approval from Jordan’s government, and reckon they could be operating at commercial levels by 2015. That’d be a sight to see, no?
I have already made my feelings clear on the impending scourge of carbon nanotubes. However it seems that my dire warnings are being ignored and hubristic scientists are continuing to portray these evil molecules as the world-saver I will continue to claim they are not:
One of the most promising applications for carbon nanotube membranes is sea water desalination. These membranes will some day be able to replace conventional membranes and greatly reduce energy use for desalination.
Oh the humanity! How can we stop the perfidious spread? I for one will refuse to drink any nanotube desalinated water for fear of impurification of my precious bodily fluids! &c [flickr image by cursedthing]
Everyone knows the KISS principle, but too often it’s forgotten in an effort to build new gadgets. Typically, desalination requires large amounts of electricity, and operates at a low efficiency. Now, researchers from (where else) the Netherlands have skipped the electrical middleman and are using the mechanical energy created by a standard irrigation windmill to force water through a special reverse osmosis filter.
This will produce around 5-10 cubic meters of water, or roughly enough to satisfy 500 people, with a storage reservoir to save up for windless days. The prototype should be up and running soon on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. No word yet on when Los Angeles will get the 26,000 it needs to avert a crisis soon.
(via DailyTech) (image from press release)