Seawater desalination plant approved for Southern California

Poseidon Resources has won approval for a 50 million gal/day seawater desalination plant in San Diego County, Calif., USA. Composites stand to play a vital role in desalination systems.

A seawater desalination plant has been approved for the city of Carlsbad in San Diego County (Calif., USA), proposed by Poseidon Resources (Stamford, Conn., USA). Poseidon received final approval on Nov. 29, 2012, for its Carlsbad Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) Desalination Project. The privately financed project could supply up to 50 million gallons per day (MGD, 189,250 m3/day) of potable water for 300,000 San Diegans, providing the County with up to 10 percent of its total water supply. 

Poseidon is also preparing design plans for a 50 MGD SWRO plant in Huntington Beach in Orange County (Calif.). The HB plant is scheduled to be operational by 2015 if permits are granted by the end of 2013.

The surface of the earth is 71 percent saltwater oceans. People living on the remaining 29 percent need water to sustain life—but cannot drink seawater. Since almost 60 percent of the world's population lives less than 36 miles/60 km from a seacoast, desalinated seawater is poised to become one of the main alternative freshwater resources in those regions. The drought-prone coastal deserts of Southern California have spent more than 20 years eyeing access to the world’s largest reservoir—the Pacific Ocean. 

The market for products and services used in converting seawater into fresh water for municipal drinking water and other uses was estimated to be about $2 billion in the year 2000 and is projected to be more than $18 billion by 2020 (Freedonia Group, Cleveland, Ohio).

Market growth is based on increasing world population—projected to reach 7.52 billion by 2020—coupled with drought, urbanization, agricultural demands and, in some cases, saline invasion into existing water resources. The World Health Organization (WHO, Geneva) estimates that there are more than 1 billion people today who lack fresh water. By mid-century that number is expected to swell to 4 billion.

SWRO desalination is a major global market for composite materials, especially in composite piping, filament-wound pressure vessels and in membrane elements for reverse osmosis separation of fresh water.