refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of saltandother mineralsfromwater . More generally, desalination may also refer
to the removal of salts and minerals,
as insoil desalination.
Water is desalinated in order to convert salt water to fresh water so itis suitable for human consumptionor irrigation. Sometimes the
process producestable saltas aby-product. Desalination is used on
many seagoingshipsandsubmarines. Most of the modern interest in
desalination is focused on developing cost-effective ways of providingfresh water for human use in regions where the availability of freshwater is, or is becoming, limited.Large-scale desalination typically uses extremely large amounts of energy as well as specialized, expensive infrastructure, making it verycostly compared to the use of fresh water from riversor groundwater .
However, along with recycled water this is one of the only non-rainfalldependent water sources particularly relevant to countries like Australia which traditionally have relied on rainfall in dams to providetheir drinking water supplies.The world's largest desalination plant is theJebel AliDesalinationPlant (Phase 2) in theUnited Arab Emirates. It is a dual-purposefacility that usesmulti-stage flash distillationand is capable of producing 300 millioncubic metresof water per year. By comparisonthe largest desalination plant in theUnited Statesis located inTampa
Bay,Floridaand operated byTampa Bay Water , which began
desalinating 34.7 million cubic meters of water per year in December 2007.
The Tampa Bay plant runs at around 12% the output of theJebel Ali Desalination Plants. A January 17, 2008, article in the
Wall Street Journal
states, "World-wide, 13,080 desalination plantsproduce more than 12 billion gallons of water a day, according totheInternational Desalination Association."