Sign In
Not register? Register Now!
Essay Available:
You are here: HomeResearch PaperEngineering
26 pages/≈14300 words
9 Sources
Research Paper
English (U.S.)
MS Word
Total cost:
$ 336.96

Engineering 183EW: Desalination And It's Place In California (Research Paper Sample)



Desalination and its Place in California ENG 183EW Prof. Weltman  Prof. Browne  Owen Liang Contents TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u Desalination and its Place in California PAGEREF _Toc427565319 \h 12Drought Background PAGEREF _Toc427565320 \h 13Current Desalination Technologies PAGEREF _Toc427565321 \h 33.1Membrane Processes PAGEREF _Toc427565322 \h 33.2Multi-Effect Distillation Processes PAGEREF _Toc427565323 \h 53.3Flash Distillation Processes PAGEREF _Toc427565324 \h 64Power Consumption Issues of Desalination PAGEREF _Toc427565325 \h 74.1Current Technologies PAGEREF _Toc427565326 \h 84.2Ethical Consideration of Power Requirements PAGEREF _Toc427565327 \h 94.2.1Duty Ethics PAGEREF _Toc427565328 \h 94.2.2Virtue Ethics PAGEREF _Toc427565329 \h 104.2.3Utilitarianism PAGEREF _Toc427565330 \h 104.3New Technologies PAGEREF _Toc427565331 \h 114.3.1Optimization of Synthetic Membranes PAGEREF _Toc427565332 \h 114.3.2Alternative Energy Sources/Water Supplies PAGEREF _Toc427565333 \h 134.3.3Nuclear Power PAGEREF _Toc427565334 \h 144.3.4Wave Energy PAGEREF _Toc427565335 \h 165Economic Considerations PAGEREF _Toc427565336 \h 175.1Effects of the Costs of Desalination PAGEREF _Toc427565337 \h 205.2Additional Cost Factors PAGEREF _Toc427565338 \h 215.3Future Cost Factors PAGEREF _Toc427565339 \h 225.4Economic Solution PAGEREF _Toc427565340 \h 235.4.1Funding Desalination PAGEREF _Toc427565341 \h 246Marine Life Impact PAGEREF _Toc427565342 \h 256.1Problem Overview PAGEREF _Toc427565343 \h 256.2Background and Issues PAGEREF _Toc427565344 \h 266.3Real World Examples PAGEREF _Toc427565345 \h 296.4Technical Solutions PAGEREF _Toc427565346 \h 306.5Ethical Considerations PAGEREF _Toc427565347 \h 347Legislative Considerations PAGEREF _Toc427565348 \h 357.1Legislative Background PAGEREF _Toc427565349 \h 357.2Non-technical Solutions PAGEREF _Toc427565350 \h 377.3Ethical Considerations PAGEREF _Toc427565351 \h 427.3.1Rights Ethics PAGEREF _Toc427565352 \h 427.3.2Utilitarianism PAGEREF _Toc427565353 \h 427.3.3Virtue Ethics PAGEREF _Toc427565354 \h 438Proposed Solutions PAGEREF _Toc427565355 \h 449 References PAGEREF _Toc427565356 \h 45 Drought Background California as a whole is no stranger to drought, or the impact it can have on its people. In the past century, California has experienced 6 major droughts, each averaging over 5 years in length (California Department of Water Resources, 2015, pg.31). Though the people of California have always managed to adapt to these conditions and persevere, the current drought is presenting challenges never before seen in regular drought conditions. This drought, now in its 4th year, is showing no signs of stopping. As a result of both record low precipitation conditions, and all-time high temperatures driving the evaporation of any residual groundwater, the length of this drought is predicted to exceed any in the recorded history of California. “What we are seeing now is fundamentally different from previous mega-droughts, because they were driven by precipitation.” (Nesbitt, 2015). According to Jeff Nesbitt, the National Science Foundation’s director of legislative and public affairs, mega-droughts – droughts lasting 20 or more years – have historically been driven almost exclusively by precipitation. However, with the temperatures of California’s rainy seasons rising at an alarming rate, it is predicted that this drought will not follow the established normal timeline, but rather last far longer than California is currently prepared to handle. This previous winter, California experienced its highest seasonal temperature in 120 years. This increase in seasonal temperatures is not an anomaly, but rather a trend of steadily increasing temperatures that we’ve seen over the past several decades (CDWR, 2015, pg.24). As a result, the California Snowpack (compacted snow present in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range) has decreased to dangerously low levels. 10147300Figure 1 – California’s Sierra Nevada Snowpack Levels (Erdman, 2015) Since the initiation of the drought in 2012, the snowpack levels have been steadily decreasing as a result of the abnormally, but steadily increasing, winter temperatures. The snowpack is typically replenished by winter precipitation, and subsequently will evaporate throughout the warmer seasons, providing a replenished source of water for the lakes downstream. However, with the lack of precipitation to increase the snowpack levels, as well as the temperature forcing additional evaporation, the snowpack currently sits at only 5% of the seasonal average. According to Weather Channel’s winter weather expert Tom Niziol, this trend is not likely correct itself the coming years, and as a result California’s ability to supply its citizens with water is rapidly diminishing. For the second time in history, California has declared a state of emergency with regards to this situation. The first, being the drought of 2007-2009, was short-lived. Now, this statewide emergency status has already exceeded the first in length, and experts agree that this is no coincidence. In July 2014, 36% of California’s population was said to be in a state of exceptional drought, D4, the highest category of drought condition used by the United States Drought Monitor. Today, only 1 year later, the percentage of Californians experiencing exceptional drought has climbed to 46%, with an unprecedented 95% experiencing severe drought, and a total of almost 37 million people being affected (United States Drought Monitor, 2015). California is in dire need of a source of fresh water, and now more than ever it needs to seek a solution to this problem before irreparable damage is done. Current Desalination Technologies One such potential solution to the issue of the rapidly diminishing fresh water supply is desalination. Simply put, desalinization is the process in which salt is removed from salt water, rendering the water safe for consumption. With the effectively limitless supply of salt water present in the Pacific Ocean along the coast of California, this would be a clear-cut solution…if it weren’t for the problems that desalination poses on a large scale. Desalination has vast power requirements during operation, as well as needing incredibly large processing plants to accommodate the volume of water required, making it a rather expensive endeavor as a whole. The costly nature of desalinization is directly correlated to the current methods by which we can remove salt from water. There are several means currently available to remove enough salt from water to make it potable, including the use of salt-restrictive membranes, distillation processes, various chemical treatments, and even through the use of solar or geothermal energy. Each process offers unique advantages, but all possess drawbacks that limit their ability to be scaled to accommodate the demand of providing the public with a long-term supply of water. We will attempt to cover some of the more popular options currently in use, as well as provide detail on some of the technologies being researched that may become viable in the future. When making a decision on whether or not desalination offers a viable solution to supplying fresh water to the population of California, however, only functional technology can be considered. Membrane Processes One of the leading candidates for a large-scale desalination solution in California is reverse osmosis. This process uses what is referred to as a semi-permiable membrane, which allows water molecules to flow through, but restricts the flow of salt and other contaminants. center000Figure 2 – Reverse Osmosis Schematic (HCTI, 2008) Demonstrated in figure 2, the process is as simple as having water pass through a preinstalled membrane, and the salt present in the ocean water will have been effectively removed. The trouble, however, comes from the pressure required to force the water through the membrane. Since the membrane has holes so small that salt cannot pass, water will still pass through, but not without the application of considerable force. A great deal of pressure is required to ensure the throughput of water through this filter. During normal use, salt will also accumulate in front of the membrane, requiring a means of removing this buildup, as well as even greater pressure to maintain filtration flow. This method of water purification has already been well adopted commercially on a small scale, as it is not uncommon to find reverse osmosis filtration systems in homes across America for personal and family use in removing heavy metals and other contaminants from drinking water. Problematically, when seeking to increase the scale of this system to one that can accommodate an entire state, or a select few cities if multiple plants were used, the power required will scale exponentially with the volume of water being filtered. Despite the large power requirements of this method of desalination, reverse osmosis is viewed as one of the most viable large-scale solutions to fresh water production for an area as large as California, largely because there are very few alternative methods which are capable of producing the same volumetric output. Multi-Effect Distillation Processes 4959352423795Another commonly used method of removing contaminants like salt from water is distillation. While often used in the context of removing undesired water from alcoholic beverages, distillation is just as effective for the purification of a water source. Figure 3 – Multi-Effect Distillation Cycle (Veolia Water Tech, 2014) As can be seen in figure 3 above, during the multi-effect distillation process, water with an arbitrary salt content is heated to the point of evaporation. This is done because the contaminants dissolved in the water, namely salt, possess different boiling points than the water itself. When the water evaporates, a large percentage of salt is left in solute/liqu...
Get the Whole Paper!
Not exactly what you need?
Do you need a custom essay? Order right now:

Other Topics:

  • Sir Isaac Newton's Significant Discoveries Impacted Current Generation
    Description: The famous scientist, Isaac Newton struggled all through and become the most educated person. He composed subjects including mathematics, science, religion, and philosophy....
    1 page/≈275 words| 7 Sources | APA | Engineering | Research Paper |
  • Effects Of Defects On Timber Due To Poor Seasoning And Conversion Methods
    Description: This increase in demand can be traced to the fact that timber as a material, is easily handled due to its light weight when compared to steel and the fabrication process in which it is cut and sawn in to different sizes ...
    1 page/≈550 words| 2 Sources | APA | Engineering | Research Paper |
  • A Comparison of Wood, Aluminum and PVC Kitchens
    Description: The design of kitchens can be done using various materials such as wood, aluminum and PVC. The choice of material is governed by factors such as cost and the designer choice. ...
    13 pages/≈3575 words| 5 Sources | APA | Engineering | Research Paper |
Need a Custom Essay Written?
First time 15% Discount!