A road sign reads "Low Water" overlooking a lake.

Pierce on Floating Desalination Plants for Disaster Relief

Gregory Pierce, co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, spoke to BBC about the prospect of floating desalination plants to bolster scarce supplies of fresh water worldwide. Desalination plants remove the salt from seawater, but the process of pumping large volumes of water across membranes at high pressure is expensive and energy-intensive. Now, engineers are working on building floating, nuclear-powered desalination systems that would make it much easier to create clean drinking water and power. Pierce noted that the most significant application of floating desalination systems could be in disaster relief. The current method of flying and trucking in bottled water after a disaster is “the most inefficient thing possible,” he said. “If floating desalination can address that, I’m all for that.” However, in other contexts, there are many other ways of securing clean water supplies that are more cost-effective, Pierce said.

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