Yedioth Achronot has reported, “In a world where freshwater resources are becoming increasingly limited, Israel—a country that is two-thirds arid-has become a leader in developing state of the art desalination technology. However, less-developed nations find that installing desalination facilities is extremely costly, as they use enormous amounts of electricity and are location sensitive. But thanks to a recent Israeli discovery, the desalination system may become more affordable in areas like Africa.”
Evidently, the new water-saving desalination innovation is in operation in the Arava Valley, south of the Dead Sea. According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, “The new plant relies on special nanofiltration membranes that churn out high-value irrigation water and allow the individual farmer or plant manager to decide which minerals should stay in the water and which should be removed. Normally, non-specific desalination filters remove all minerals, which must then be replenished depending on the end need. […] The special membrane enables them to save energy in the pumping, while allowing the water to retain the right essential minerals.”
Test runs of the system in the Dead Sea region of Israel, where the climate is dry, has shown that farmers can use up to 25 percent less water and fertilizer than what is usually needed. Andrea Ghermandi of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University, who is one of the systems creators, asserted, “The growing global demand for food and competition for resources among economic sectors compel future agricultural systems to be more efficient in the use of natural resources such as land and water.”
Rami Messalem, who was also part of the developing team, explained that, “The breakthrough here was to make the system more economical and we’ve done this using nanofiltration cleverly. Our system is compatible with electricity but is based on the premise that it can be used in poor countries, in places where you don’t have an electricity source – as a standalone system. […]Reverse osmosis is based on membranes, and in this case we are using nanofilters, which [perform] ‘loose’ reverse osmosis, and we will use much less energy in the process.”
Israel has already assisted many countries with desalination technology. The Jewish Press reported, “Since 2011, the Israeli-built desalination plant in Tianjin is China’s largest and most environmentally friendly desalination plant to date, running on some of the waste heat produced by a nearby power plant, producing fresh water and salt.” Israel’s IDE Technologies has in fact built 400 desalination plants in some 40 different countries from across the globe. However, this new innovation should greatly enhance Israel’s desalination efforts globally.
Already, Israel has signed a water agreement with the new African nation of South Sudan to assist with desalination, irrigation, water transport and purification. “We see this as a privilege to be the first [sector in Israel] to sign an agreement with the new state. We will continue to do everything possible in order to assist you. You are among friends,” Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau said in a statement aimed at Akec Paul Mayom, water and irrigation minister of South Sudan. South Sudan suffers from severe water problems.