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Gulf of Mexico Gets Wave-Powered Desalination Plant

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the hope-it-comes-with-an-oil-filter dept.

Earth 75

blair1q writes "The US Army Corps of Engineers has issued the first permit for a wave-powered desalination plant in American territory to a company called Independent Natural Resources. Waves will operate 'Seadog' pumps, which will lift water into the plant and onto a water wheel connected to a generator, which will create electricity to operate a reverse-osmosis desalination system. The permit runs for four years. Let's hope they don't harm the environment, permanently impact drilling operations, or give Rube Goldberg any crazy ideas..."

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oil (1)

Mondo1287 (622491) | more than 4 years ago | (#32382842)

Unfortunately, it wasn't designed to de-oil the water.

Re:oil (4, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32382902)

At least now they won't have to worry about lubricating the wheel.

Re:oil (2, Funny)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 4 years ago | (#32384498)

At least now they won't have to worry about lubricating the wheel.

Yeah, and the tap-water has nice "money" flavor.

faith based technology ? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32386448)

INRI, really? [wikipedia.org]

hey, if it works, I'm all for it...

Re:oil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32397586)

At least now they won't have to worry about lubricating the wheel.

yes, but how will they get the BP oil out of the water?

OK, somebody has to say it (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32382852)

Can't they just burn the water to power it?

Seeing as how you started it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32382916)

Q: What's a seadog?

A: It's a mediocre grade to get on an assignment.

BA-DMP CHHHHH

(lol, captcha = leakages)

Re: the dangers of Dihydride Oxides (2, Insightful)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383420)

technically, that's what a fuel cell is.

You could store the tidal energy by cracking the water H20 into H2 and O2 and then use it in a fuel cell.

But each conversion process means you lose part of the energy.

And since they need non-brackish drinking water, making it directly is more efficient.

Re: the dangers of Dihydride Oxides (2, Funny)

weirdo557 (959623) | more than 4 years ago | (#32385452)

whoosh

Re: the dangers of Dihydride Oxides (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32386032)

He MEANT that the water is full of oil slick. ie. harvest the crude as it flows into the facility and burn it.

Re: the dangers of Dihydride Oxides (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32388216)

The Gulf of Mexico is now a fuel cell.

Re:OK, somebody has to say it (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 4 years ago | (#32388862)

In the GOM, just might work now, the water is getting pretty flammable.

Interesting... Links to info (3, Informative)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#32382886)

http://inri.us/index.php/SEADOG Looks promising actually.

Re:Interesting... Links to info (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 4 years ago | (#32388912)

Simple and elegant, I think if I were them I'd be using it to power a commercial scale oil/water separator, unfortunately they might have a hard time keeping up with demand.

Quick Question (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32382898)

What would you do with Desalinated water that would involve it going back into the ocean?

Re:Quick Question (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32382990)

Drink it? Use it for cleaning? Any damn thing you do with water?

Many will notice rivers tend to flow towards oceans.

Re:Quick Question (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383020)

Then where does the environmental issue come in?

If the water is returning to the ocean, it's not like it is going to affect water levels too much. And if its salt they need, they'll have a bunch lying around from the desalination.

Unless of course, the issue is to use the salt? I think you may have inadvertantly lead me to answering my own question.

Re:Quick Question (2, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383040)

The increased salinity in the area of the device, perhaps.
The fact that it may ingest fish and other wildlife could be another issue.

Lots of possibilities.

Re:Quick Question (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32383432)

I fear the day that I ingest fish and animals...

Re:Quick Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32383138)

The water would be for drinking, the salt and other minerals, probably sold... Ever hear of "Sea Salt" ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_salt

It looks like this thing is powered by the ocean, to turn un potable water, into two resource you can sell.. potable water, and sea salt. It costs nothing, and generates a profit, and from what i can tell it doesnt hurt a damn thing.

Re:Quick Question (2, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383200)


The water would be for drinking, the salt and other minerals, probably sold.

The salt would most likely be discarded. Reverse-Osmosis doesn't produce nice crystals of salt that you can store away and sell. It produces SALTIER water, and salt-less water.

Re:Quick Question (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383362)

Saltier water could be allowed to evaporate in tanks to make nice crystals.

Re:Quick Question (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32385216)


Saltier water could be allowed to evaporate in tanks to make nice crystals.

It could. You'd need quite a lot of dry space to absorb enough energy though to evaporate all the water. There's not a lot of dry space in the ocean. Salt isn't worth very much, and there's already tons of the stuff already evaporated.

Re:Quick Question (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32387656)

It costs nothing

Not exactly, it must be maintained by staff.

Re:Quick Question (2, Informative)

Entropy2016 (751922) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383524)

Reverse Osmosis generates water that is super-saline (not dry salt). Under RCRA, highly concentrated salt-water (like the type that can be produced by mass amounts of reverse-osmosis) is legally classified as a kind of hazardous waste, and for good reason.

Re:Quick Question (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383698)

Could you not evaporate it into sea salt that you sell?

Or release it over a large area and mix it well?
I am thinking some sort of pipe that has many small holes and leaks over a large area. This would mean the super-saline water would be mixed with the sea water very fast.

Re:Quick Question (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32384306)

B-b-but, that would be suggesting that in this scenario the solution to pollution could actually be dilution! That's madness! Can not allow.

Anyways, as far as evaporating it goes, that'd be a great idea provided they have the land available to actually flood and evaporate on. I don't know if they do or not.

Re:Quick Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32384992)

You don't need lots of flat land to have an effective evaporator. Evaporation is a function of temperature, average humidity, and total surface area of the liquid that is being evaporated.

Large "Drying pools" work by spreading the liquid out, and increasing the surface area.

There is another way to increase surface area of the liquid; Spray it out like a mist.

So, if you are taxed on square footage of realestate, you can still run an effective evaporator by doing the following:

In one chamber, you pressurize your saline water with ordinary air. This pressurized saline water is sprayed through mister ports at about the mid-level of a VERY tall, hollow tube. In the center of the tube, is a textured plastic screen, or other surface to permit crystal growth. At the bottom of the tube, there are ports injecting compressed dry air. The top of the tube is left open.

The total height of the tube prohibits saline mist from simply being blown out. the mist is heavy, and wants to sink. While dispersed as droplets, the surface area of this saline water is at or near its theoretical maximum. The "dry" air flow at the bottom ensures that there is always favorable ambient humidity to cause rapid, efficient evaporation of these droplets. the textured mesh screens toward the center of the tube serve as neucleating substrate for saline crystals to grow on.

If desired, a condensation system can be installed at the top of the evaporation tube, to reconstitute the evaporated water vapor. Since this method uses microdroplet condensation, there WILL be suspended saline crystals in the output air, but the vast majority of the salt will be deposited lower down, on the collection screens. Thus the condensed water at the top WILL be slightly saline, but much less so than say-- your average glass of tap water. The pedant could simply return this water to the RO system.

Re:Quick Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32387332)

Now if you do all this in a tank that's under a vacuum [wikipedia.org] , you can lower the boiling point. (If you were clever, you could make enough steam using a solar focus to power a gas ejector.) Thus your evaporator even becomes more effective. If it's in a tropical area with a lot of sun, a few reflectors around a black tank could hit that boiling point pretty easy. Repeat the process a second or third time with the slightly saline water, and the need for the RO is just for redundancy purposes. (Like letting too much feed in and flooding the condensation collector portion or whatever.) The only other upside to RO I could think of would be for the company selling the RO membrane filters.

I swear, sometimes people make it more complicated than it is. I suppose dealing with mineralization and keeping germs out (which can be a problem at reduced boiling points) when dealing with high volumes of water may be a pain though.

Re:Quick Question (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32385670)

Actually, that's a very good idea. You could pump the super-saline to many locations via small pipelines (with holes drilled lengthwise). I would imagine the concentration would be so low as to have little to zero effect on the environment. The ocean is vast!!!

Re:Quick Question (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32388238)

You could pump the super-saline to many locations via small pipelines (with holes drilled lengthwise).

Is lengthwise not the traditional orientation of the hole in a pipe? Wouldn't make for much of a pipe otherwise.

Re:Quick Question (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32387668)

Probably has more to do with its effect on dry land, it'll do quite some damage if you pour it onto farm land but if you spread it out enough and put it back into the ocean it should be fine.

Construction harms the environment (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383822)

Then where does the environmental issue come in?

The fact that they will build large installations in areas which are essential to the ecosystem. Many species of fish, shrimp, and crab in the Gulf need coastal marshes and mangroves to breed.

Re:Quick Question (1)

Alien1024 (1742918) | more than 4 years ago | (#32388356)

where does the environmental issue come in?

Waste in the form of brine [abc.net.au] .

Re:Quick Question (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32393806)

Flush the toilet?

Missing Quote (5, Funny)

FrankDrebin (238464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32382968)

"Thanks to BP, for the first 3 years of operation, the desalination plant will actually produce Kraft Cajun-Style Salad Dressing."

Re:Missing Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32385066)

We have a winner!

Re:Missing Quote (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32391430)

Now available in premium unleaded!

Re:Missing Quote (1)

mrheckman (939480) | more than 4 years ago | (#32422332)

"Thanks to BP, for the first 3 years of operation, the desalination plant will actually produce Kraft Cajun-Style Salad Dressing."

And, thanks to desalination, it will be low sodium!

hot sticky cock (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32383028)

a nice juicy thick rock-hard piece of man cock

all for me baby. all for me

This is a very wise investment (4, Interesting)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383072)

Using wave technology, which varies in cycles, you can store desalinated water at times of peak flow.

A tidal generator can have many forms - some, which look like buoys, are basically upside-down wind turbines that use the flow of water instead of air to move the blades, while others can use permeated cells. Desalination plants have been around since before WW II, naturally, as have tidal generators.

Delivery of energy supply is one of the main problems with desalination - the process uses a lot of energy, so using local sources such as tidal power makes more sense than trying to string extra power to the plant.

Not that you'd want to drink the swampy and/or briny water in many lowland tidal areas ...

Re:This is a very wise investment (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383264)

get a 10MW solar nuclear generator, build the plant around that. power problem solved.

Re:This is a very wise investment (2, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383392)

I'm sorry, but we're talking reality here.

Nuclear fusion has been 20 years in the future since the World's Fair in NY before I was born.

It's still 20 years in the future.

But we do have flying cars, jetpacks, and TV/cell wristwatches.

Re:This is a very wise investment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32384336)

Please turn off your video games and come back to reality. kthxby

thanks to BP (2, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383080)

Thanks to the spill this plant is self lubricating.

Just a demo (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383210)

"Rather than sell electricity or water, though, operators will be taking data to measure impact on sea life, the generator's performance, and the cost of operation, said Douglas Sandberg, the vice president of the privately funded company."

So it's just a demo. Only generates 60KW. Not clear if that's average or max power; probably max. On days with low surf, not much will happen.

They've been hyping this since 2004. There are better wave powered generation devices, and even the best ones are commercial flops.

Re:Just a demo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32383242)

And this trial is going to be a failure. For some reason, once they started operating it, everything started to die in the Gulf.

Re:Just a demo (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32383402)

flops?

tide power is used all over the world... just because SUV driving rednecks in the US haven't done much with it yet doesn't discount the potential of the power source.

Re:Just a demo (3, Funny)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383808)

Mod parent up, and tidal is a technology only in its infancy. I mean the clown conflated tidal power with surf, as if it were a gust of wind. Newsflash champ, the tides depend on the moon, not the surf.

Re:Just a demo (5, Informative)

moonbender (547943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32384354)

Reyling on the moon? Hah! Good luck! Damn thing keeps disappearing all the time, god knows where, and even most of the time it is there parts of it have broken off or something!

Re:Just a demo (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32384742)

OMG! How does it became tagged Informative?!

Re:Just a demo (2, Funny)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32385278)

OMG! How does it became tagged Informative?!

I don't suppose you can tell us where it keeps going then, Mr. Know-It-All?

Re:Just a demo (1)

laddiebuck (868690) | more than 4 years ago | (#32391462)

The mods were on a Friday night bender... They probably looked up, didn't see a moon, and were grateful for the explanation.

Re:Just a demo (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32385026)

It isn't really "used all over the world", certainly not commonly. France built a big one (Rance) in 1966, which was for years the only big one. There are now a few nearing completion in South Korea. Even when they finish, you'll still be able to count the number of tidal installations producing over 50 MW on one hand.

oil tag? (2, Insightful)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383220)

why there an "oil" tag on this one?
sure, they probably can't operate it while there's the oil issue in the gulf....though, I wonder if their reverse-osmosis filtration systems can filter out oil.....or the seadog pump that use a "wheel" (also wonder if those "wheels" are like a centrifuge)

even if it can't...send Kevin Costner in (rolls sarcastic eyes here), he'll make it work some how.

Re:oil tag? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32383534)

gulf of mexxon, or gulf of mexaco.

Re:oil tag? (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32391440)

I believe in Mexico it'd be called the "Gulf of Messo"

Automatic (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383268)

At least they won't need to worry about greasing anything for several years, but who's going to buy black salt?

Re:Automatic (1)

The Creator (4611) | more than 4 years ago | (#32388162)

but who's going to buy black salt?

Goth sailors?

Rate (1, Interesting)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#32383640)

An interesting idea... but just because something is clean and self-sustaining, doesn't make it a wise investment. At what rate does this produce fresh water, and how much does it cost to build? It sounds clever, but would it actually be more efficient than a traditional desalination powered by solar, or even nuclear power?

I hope it works well, but too many of these ideas simply cost too much for too little.

A tiny little application brings the nuclear troll (2, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32384014)

Here they are talking about something small you can put into place remote from the grid and you are suggesting a technology that is best at very large scales?
There is also no such thing as "traditional desalination" yet but a nice try at emotional manipulation there.
Do you write this for every new technology and just change two or three words? It just doesn't quite fit in this situation but looks very familiar.

Re:A tiny little application brings the nuclear tr (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32389840)

There is also no such thing as "traditional desalination"

The Navies of the world would like a word with you. There absolutely is "traditional desalination" which typically runs off waste heat on ships. There are many on shore desalination plants in dry parts of the world with natural gas to flare off.

A cost/benefit analysis is reasonable for every new technology. Please include non-financial costs and benefits but do the thinking before going whole hog.

A billion dollar 50kw generator will never be worth building, true anywhere, I mean 10^9 and real (USA) dollars. Even if it produces puppies and butterflies as waste and costs nothing to run.

I don't even know if the ISS power system is that expensive (critiquing my own argument by finding a counter example).

What do they do with the puppies on ISS? Stop it, stop it that's sil

Re:A tiny little application brings the nuclear tr (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395036)

The Navies of the world would like a word with you. There absolutely is "traditional desalination" which typically runs off waste heat on ships.

I think you'll find they would never dream of calling it such a thing, and instead call it "distillation".
I'm just calling the above poster to task for the usual NIMBY luddite bullshit and raising emotive questions in such a way as to demonstate he has absolutely no clue and didn't even fully read the article summary.

Re:A tiny little application brings the nuclear tr (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32400340)

You think what they call it makes your argument less wrong?

FYI distillation is one of several methods used for desalination.

The GP poster suggested that a reasoned look at the economics of new technology is appropriate prior to deciding it will/won't save the world. You interpret that as 'NIMBY Luddite bullshit' without bothering to understanding it.

I agree with the sib poster. You are a moron.

Re:A tiny little application brings the nuclear tr (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#32394358)

There's lots of "traditional" desalination techniques, and it's widely used in regions like the Persian Gulf where supplies of fresh water are limited. You've got everything from evaporative desalination to reverse osmosis which can run on waste heat from power plants or other industrial processes, to reverse-osmosis. And you can easily build a small reverse-osmosis based desalination plant powered by solar. All that takes is some clear skies and a water pump, no need for a complex field installation.

What good is a wave-powered desalination plant that costs $500,000 to construct, when it produces the same amount of fresh-water as a small $50k solar-powered reverse-osmosis device? I have no clue whether those numbers are representative, which is why I ask the question in the original post.

In summary, you're a fucking idiot.

Re:A tiny little application brings the nuclear tr (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#32395076)

So you don't read the article summary, don't notice it is reverse-osmosis but rave on about that later, make up some numbers with one deliberately large and another deliberately small to make one thing look bad, and then call me an idiot?
I'm simply sick of this mindless questioning luddite bullshit that appears whenever an alternative energy is mentioned, along with what I'm assuming is the clueless "why not nukes, we got them right in 1970 but those damn hippies stopped us" bullshit packaged with it.

just wondering (4, Funny)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 4 years ago | (#32384178)

how many people have to wave at it in order for it to work?

One simple question... (2, Interesting)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 4 years ago | (#32384506)

Freshwater is in short supply. They're right on the ocean.

WHY DON'T WE HAVE THIRTY OF THEM? Why does the government SO PROFOUND it can save millions of dollars by doing healthcare think that keeping desalination plants away is a good idea?

Desalination plants of all kinds are in place around the world, whether using this design or others....so why would anyone deny them?

Really, people: let's work the problem!

How is this new? (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32385170)

How is this any different from the De-sal plants that run on oil?

Re:How is this new? (1)

urusan (1755332) | more than 4 years ago | (#32386642)

If everything goes well, slightly higher capital costs for greatly reduced operational costs.

From TFA: "The company chose to work on desalination because the energy costs associated with running desalination plants are very high--as much as 40 percent or 50 percent of operating costs, according to Sandberg."

Re:How is this new? (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32388132)

"How is this any different from the De-sal plants that run on oil?"

I infer from the title that it runs on wave power.

Re:How is this new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32388290)

How is this any different from the De-sal plants that run on oil?

I can only assume that this is a very subtle joke about the Gulf of Mexico and oil, because to assume otherwise would reflect poorly on your intelligence.

The Best Final Solution .... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32386232)

Barak Hussain Obam and his Staff and Cabinet Officers commit suicide.

Plane and simple.

The FOIAs now in progress will be devestating ... when released to the public.

This is End-Game End-of-Days for our beloved Obama. Oh .. so soon ... so sad.

And the Department of Defense is watching very carefully (minute by minute ... and meter by meter) ... the moves of Barak Hussain Obama (a.k.a. Supreme Enemy Combatant).

Perhaps there is a particular cell ... at Gitmo ... for our very special Barak ... a.k.a. a coffin.

Mr. (soon to be former) President (Supreme Enemy Combatant) Barak Hussain Obama.

I advise you and your kind committ your souls to the Suicide Solution.

May Heaven forgive you ... WE on the otherhand ... WILL NOT.

Here We Go! (2, Interesting)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32387876)

Any reverse osmosis unit that I have ever seen requires fairly clean sea water to start the process. For example yachts need to be in open water before allowing these units to be started up. Now how will this work with BPs tons and tons of crude oil mixed into the Gulf. One good gulp of oil will foul this new idea completely.

Never happen ... Gulf of Mex is DOA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32394098)

Looks like the Brits will get their revenge for Obama screwing Copenhagen.

In as little as seven years, a zone about 200 to 300 miles wide boarding the landward regions of the Gulf of Mexico will be uninhabitable.

Gone are the cities, industries, tourism, economy, and life.

The only thing that can shut off the well is a nuclear blast on the sea floor at the well site.

Obama is against it, does not have the stomach or back-bone for such, so he will consine millions of the United States of America and Mexico the slow death, real people will die.

Obama or any of his cronies care about real people. Obama is an Emperior, and his servents are Gods. What does he need to worry about if 30 million humans die.

His penus is safe in the hands and warm mouth of William Gates, Sec DOD.

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