Keywords: nuclear desalination, outlook, trends, desalination technologies, fresh water supply, seawater desalination
A global overview on nuclear desalination
Nuclear desalination is considered one of the viable sources of producing the fresh water needed in arid areas. Nowadays, several countries have shown interest in the use of nuclear energy for seawater desalination, because recent studies have demonstrated that nuclear desalination is not only feasible but also economical, and this has already been demonstrated in several countries. Although the future requires the effective integration of energy resources to produce power and desalinated water economically with proper consideration for the environment, the significant increase in fuel energy cost and material cost has resulted in a dramatic impact on the capital and operational costs of desalination and power plants. The impact of any increase in the price of fossil fuels (as in the case before mid-2008) and the high demand for raw materials (e.g., steel, copper, nickel) will increase the pressure to develop novel solutions to minimise fossil energy consumption and reduce the capital expenditure of desalination plants. This, in turn, is causing a renewed global interest in nuclear energy. However, nuclear desalination may face some challenges, among which are public perception, financing, the transfer of nuclear technology and considerations for the safety of the coupling options selected.