R. Einav et al. / Desalination 152 (2002) 141–154
power station, which in turn results in increased air pollution, pollution by coal dust, thermal pollution, etc. Theseverity of these effects differs in different areas according to: a) the hydrogeological nature of the marine body(bathymetry, depth, tides, waves, currents); b) the biological sensitivity of the marine habitat; c) the type of desalination plant, its size, the required secondary structures and infrastructure. Environmental awareness and preliminary planningcan minimize the adverse effects of the desalination process on the environment.
Marine; Environment; Desalination; Brine; Outlet; Intake
According to the Bible, the first project of de-salination was conducted by Moses at the placeof Mei Mara in the Sinai desert, where by in-troducing a piece of bitter wood into the bitter water Moses has turned the previously bitter fluidinto potable water. The first scientific reportdescribing a technology designed for the desali-nation of seawater was published by ThomasJefferson, the American Secretary of State, in 1791. Instructions for operation of the technology were posted on notice boards in every ship, for use in acase of emergency. During the Second World War,hundreds of portable desalination devices wereused by the troops of the various armies. In theearly fifties, research projects were initiated withthe aim of lowering the price of the desalination process. The incorporation of membrane processesresulted in a major improvement to the technique.The increase in the standard of living in thedeveloping countries during the second half of the 20th century resulted in an increased demandfor water for daily use as well as for industrialuse. At the same time, clear water, regarded inthe past as a natural resource, available and cheap,had turned into a precious commodity. A number of reasons may be given to explain this process:growth of the population, wasteful use of water, pollution of available water resources, and climaticchanges related to global warming. At the beginningof the third millennium, we are facing a revolutionin the desalination process, where reasonable costsand a continuous trend of further lowering the costs,will enable the supply of water of high quality atconvenient prices, thus allowing expansion of residential areas as well as an improvement inthe quality of life of people all over the world.The yearly deficit in Israel’s water budget, asestimated in 2001, is between 200 and 500 millionm
/y. A desalination plant, such as the one to beconstructed in Ashkelon, would be capable of pro-ducing 100 million m
/y of water (320,000 m
/d),accounting for 20–50% of this deficit. Being thefirst in a line of plants to be constructed places greatresponsibility on the planners and on those whoapprove the plans, to establish proper standardsthat can meet with environmental demands. Theconstruction of plants for seawater desalinationis the preferred environmental option for reducingthe water budget deficit, but first the environ-mental price of such plants should be thoroughlyresearched and taken into account.The common technologies for seawater desali-nation are based on two main processes — evapo-ration and membrane separation, as shown inTable 1 [2–4]. In general, all processes of evapora-tion require large amounts of energy and thereforeare suitable only to areas that are rich in cheapfuel. The cost of energy is the main productionexpense in desalination plants (excluding theamortization) and the process of reserve osmosis(RO) is the most efficient desalination process both in terms of energy and costs [5,6]. For this andother reasons reverse osmosis is becoming theestablished and preferred desalination process allover the world and in particular in Israel, andtherefore most of this paper will be dedicated to it.The process of reverse osmosis is based on thefact that in all salt solutions an osmotic pressurearises whose magni cxctude is proportional to thesalt concentration. When a semi-permeable