Sustainable Approach for Biological Desalination of Seawater Using Microalgae

E. Sahle-Demessie, A.A. Hassan, A. Zhao
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, US

Keywords: desalination, halophytic algae, biofuel


The rapid growth of global population and the increased per capita consumption, together with the fast growth of urbanization, industrialization and agriculture, are creating critical water demand and significant pressures on the limited fresh water resource. A third of the world's population lives in arid regions without adequate supplies of clean drinking water and many regions of the world are suffering from drinking water shortage. Hence, the problem is critical in some parts of the world. The supply of fresh water has further worsened due to persistent regional droughts, shifting of the population to urban coastal cities, and water needed for industrial growth. Lack of fresh and good quality water reduces economic development and lowers living standards. Seawater desalination is a promising option. However, the current desalination technology, that is based on physicochemical processes, is a highly energy demanding process, which is typically generated from fossil fuels. The application is limited to fuel-rich and affluent developed countries. The combustion of fossil fuels emits greenhouse gase and, is implicated in climate change. In addition to environmental emissions from electricity generation for desalination, GHG are emitted in the production of chemicals and membranes for water treatment.