In 2015, Bill Gates was recorded drinking water produced from a machine that converts human fecal matter into useful components including clean drinking water. The stunt helped bring attention to the problem of water scarcity and its growing impact in the future. That machine, the Omni Processor, is an ingenious solution but its technology is still in its infancy. Instead, most of us will likely rely on desalinated water, which is seawater that has been processed for human consumption.
Although there are more than 20,000 desalination plants around the world, only about 1% of the world’s population currently relies on desalinated water for their daily needs. But changing weather patterns will continue to cause water scarcity especially in densely populated areas and is predicted to increase the number of people reliant on desalinated water to more than 14%. As we become more dependent on desalinated water, so too will our need for desalination plants with greater placement flexibility.
In this article, we will discuss how you can use a pipeline system to construct a desalination plant beyond coastal regions. Additionally, we will examine how to create a desalination pipeline system and why high-density polyethylene is the material of choice for such an application.
Breaking free from landlocks
One impetus for the Omni Processor is its easy-access “fuel” in the form of human sewage. With human sewage in abundance everywhere humans gather, the converter has proven especially very useful in dry, landlocked regions. A desalination plant, on the other hand, relies on close access to seawater. And most desalination plants function using reverse osmosis, which requires facilities that take up an excess of 20 acres. These factors have likely blocked the creation of many desalination facilities. Fortunately, improvements in material design and pipeline technology has enabled the construction of pipeline systems specially designed to safely transport pumped seawater inland to facilities built in more convenient locations.
The ability to build the desalination plant away from the coast opens up more construction options that can cut costs and improve space usage.
Creating a desalination pipeline system
The first component of a desalination plant is its intake system, which is responsible for transporting seawater to the plant. The intake system comprises three parts: the intake structure located offshore, an intake pump station located at the treatment plant, and the pipeline that connects the two structures. The pipeline system requires special attention as its integrity is essential for preventing leaks that could increase operational costs and harm the local ecology. At the same time, the pipe must be built out of the way to prevent obstruction of roads and buildings. For these reasons, the majority of the pipeline of the intake system should be buried.
For pipe to be buried, it must be made with material that is strong enough to endure the various forces that it will experience during installation and operation. For instance, a trenchless technique like horizontal directional drilling (HDD) can help bypass surface obstructions while also avoiding existing underground pipework. However, HDD it works best when using a pipe that is both flexible and durable enough to withstand the various loads and other variables present during the pullback cycle of the installation.
Fortunately, engineers have access to larger, stronger, more flexible pipe that allow them to design ambitious projects using modern installation techniques. The latest class of pipe to enter the market is known as XXL Pipe.