American researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, south of Chicago, have put forward a solution that would make it possible to overcome the shortage of drinking water linked in particular to droughts and to fight against global warming. They propose to recover water vapor, a greenhouse gas, to transform it into drinking water.
Water vapor is one of the main greenhouse gases and its presence in the atmosphere will increase with global warming and the global rise in temperature. While 70% of the earth’s surface is composed of oceans, this water is not drinkable and cannot be used as is by populations that will face an increasing lack of drinking water even in temperate zones.
The implementation of a seawater desalination system is a complex process that also requires cleaning the water because of the presence of toxic particles from discharges related to human activities. A team of scientists from the university has modelled the feasibility of a system that would allow the recovery of water vapor from the oceans, which, instead of rising into the atmosphere and participating in global warming, would be transformed into drinking water.
This system is based on the natural process of desalination of seawater carried out by the sun’s rays, which allow the evaporation of water by heating the oceans. The evaporated water is much less salty than ocean water, a device located several kilometers offshore could then capture the water-saturated air.
This type of installation planned to be about one hundred meters high and two hundred and ten meters wide would be connected to the continent by pipes that would send the wet air collected in storage buildings on the land. The system would be powered by wind turbines installed at sea or solar panels installed on land, and after a slight treatment, the water could be used as drinking water or water for crop irrigation.
The researchers have targeted fourteen cities such as Barcelona, Rome, Lisbon, Doha, Valparaiso, Los Angeles, Durban and Perth to test the feasibility of this approach. They estimate that these cities could generate between thirty-seven and seventy-eight billion liters of water per year and that between two and ten of these installations would be necessary depending on the city to ensure the water needs of the entire population, each individual needing about three hundred liters of water on average per year.