Desalinating ice: an answer to China’s water woes?

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Desalinating ice: an answer to China’s water woes?

At least one billion cubic metres of fresh water could be produced by desalinating ice from the Bohai sea in China by 2023, Chinese news agency Xinhua has reported.

A “sea ice desalination technology transfer” has been signed between Beijing Normal University and Beijing Huahaideyun Technology Co.

Executive president Yu Jian of the company was quoted as saying that the salinity of sea ice water after desalination is 0.1% and prior to desalination, he said sea ice water salinity is between 0.4% to 0.8% - lower than that of seawater.

In February 2012, China's State Council announced its 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP) for desalination, establishing a higher than expected target of 2.2 - 2.6 million m3/day of online capacity by 2015, versus less than 1 million m3/day today.

As part of the partnership, the research team has allegedly “mastered the basic principles and technology of sea ice desalination and developed the equipment to be used in the process, including an ice-breaking platform and an ice-gatherer”.

China’s sea ice programme was reported to have started in 1996 when Shi Peijun, a professor from Beijing Normal University, found that low saline ice could ease the water shortage around the Pan-Bohai Bay area in North China, after desalination.

In cold winters, the large areas of sea ice in Bohai are formed by the cold wave activities of Siberia.

A study published in 2008 entitled “Study on sea ice desalination technology”, authored by Tianjin University, said that: “Through economic analyses, it is seen that producing fresh water from sea ice in the Bohai Sea of China every winter proved to be a feasible approach to alleviate the pressure of fresh water shortages.”

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