What is the most expensive part of a desalination plant?



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    The most expensive feature of traditional desalination is the energy used to run the plant. Until recent years about 85% of desalination plants worldwide used vacuum distillation technology, which is a process involving the boiling of water at less than atmospheric pressure. Obviously, boiling large amounts of water and maintaining pressure tanks consumes a tremendous amount of power. More recently, however, desalination plants have been using reverse osmosis, which is a type of filtration technology, essentially straining salt and other ingredients out of the water. This is less energy intensive, but still expensive. Another huge cost associated with desalination plants is the piping system. This is particularly true in Middle Eastern countries, where desalination is most frequently used. Huge networks of pipes must be laid across desert terrain, and the cost of installing and maintaining this infrastructure may exceed the cost to simply buy fresh water and truck it in from elsewhere. Although desalination is an economically difficult technology, progress is being made to make it more feasible.

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