Pacific island nations explore desalination

Papua New Guinea is among a number of Pacific island nations that are eyeing new Japanese technology that can desalinate seawater for drinking and produce electricity by exploiting the difference in temperatures between the surface of the sea and ocean depth.

Papua New Guinea is among a number of Pacific island nations that are eyeing new Japanese technology that can desalinate seawater for drinking and produce electricity by exploiting the difference in temperatures between the surface of the sea and ocean depth.

The Republic of Palau in western Pacific is working with Saga University in southern Japan to construct a system that can produce enough drinking water for its 20,000 residents. The university plans to build an experimental power plant off the coast of Palau that brings up cold seawater from deep sea to an evaporator chamber near the ocean surface.

As the water is heated up by the surrounding warm surface water it releases ammonia gas that drives the system's power generator, said Yasuyuki Ikegami, deputy director of the Institute of Ocean Energy at Saga University. Meanwhile, the heated water would be transferred to a separate low-pressure chamber where it boils at a lower temperature, producing steam, which would be condensed and collected as fresh water for human consumption, leaving salt crystals behind.

Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Alan Marat also expressed his interest in the system.

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