NEW YORK 20 March, 2018 – Small island developing States (SIDS) are facing numerous challenges related to freshwater resources including: pollution, over-exploitation of surface, ground and coastal waters, saline intrusion, drought and water scarcity. Furthermore, changes in rainfall patterns related to climate change have potentially major impacts on water supply for islands.
Addressing these pressing water related challenges is critical for island nations including the need to implement the SAMOA Pathway – the dedicated programme of action for SIDS – as well as achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. Indeed, through the SAMOA Pathway, the international community has committed to supporting the efforts of SIDS inter alia in the exploration of desalination technology.
Solving water related challenges requires a host of approaches and one company which has been contributing – especially to solving the challenge of water scarcity – is Elemental Water Makers. Headquartered in Delft, the Netherlands, the company is a spinoff of the Delft University of Technology and has spent the last five years developing its desalination reverse osmosis technology and implementing projects in remote areas as well as island nations.
Recently it has also been involved in emergency relief solutions in the Caribbean by providing access to fresh water through desalination and working on a water supply project for a community of 1300 people through a partnership with the Government of Cape Verde.
The company provides reverse osmosis units that run below 3 kWh/m³ or 11 kWh/1,000 gallons energy consumption for seawater desalination, starting at a few m³ or 1,000 gallons per day and upwards. The company claims that through its solutions, water cost can be as low as 1.3 $/m³ or 5.0 $ per 1,000 gallons.
The desalination units are able to convert seawater or brackish water using off grid energy from solar, wind or wave energy. This is a low cost and zero-carbon approach for desalination and addresses the issue of energy intensive and high cost fossil fuel use normally associated with desalination plants. The system has a low footprint but also scalable depending on the needs of customers which range from private households to resorts and municipalities.
Desalination through reverse osmosis has been around for decades and reliant on a constant supply of electricity. The fluctuating nature of renewable energy was a major challenge Elemental Water Makers had to overcome and this was achieved through an ingenious yet simple solution of placing a water tank at an elevated position which in turn allows for gravity to provide pressure for reverse osmosis to take place at a constant rate.
The company’s technology has not gone un-noticed. In 2017, Elemental Water Makers was recipient of the first prize in the Innovative Projects Award for commercial projects from the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award.
Globally, over 2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and it is estimated that more than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand and polluted supplies, according to the latest World Water Development report by UN-Water. Humans use about 4,600 cubic km of water every year, of which 70% goes to agriculture, 20% to industry and 10% to households. Global demand has increased sixfold over the past 100 years and continues to grow at the rate of 1% each year.
Mr. Sid Vollebregt, Managing Director of Elemental Water Makers, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feature Photo: Christian Lendl; Flickr CC