#9 Desalination using nuclear power provides clean water while being low-carbon

Home     Uncategorized     #9 Desalination using nuclear power provides clean water while being low-carbon
Published on 03/01/2022

(and other nuclear techniques preserve water resources)

How does nuclear contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goal #6: Access to Clean Water?

A clean and accessible water supply is essential for human health and human development. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2025, half of the world’s population will live in areas of water stress.

Desalination of seawater can address the challenges that water-stressed areas face, but most desalination plants are powered by fossil fuels, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear reactors, in addition to providing electricity, can be a source of clean water. They produce steam that drives turbines that generate electricity, and the remaining heat can be used to boil ocean water and produce fresh water. This use of nuclear energy has already been implemented in Japan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India and China.

Nuclear technology can also be used to purify water. The textile industry consumes huge amounts of water and chemicals (dyes, starches, acids, salts and detergents). These are usually chemically treated, creating secondary waste.

Electron beam treatment is used instead. These beams break the chemical bonds of clothing dyes and remove pollutants, allowing water to recycle. In a textile factory in southern China, this technique saves up to 4.5 million m3 of fresh water per year, or the equivalent of the water consumed by around 100,000 people.

The full report of the World Nuclear Association is available here.