Israel has emerged as the world’s leading innovator in desalination – a process which converts salt water found in the ocean into fresh water suitable for human consumption or irrigation for agricultural production. The Israeli desalination company IDE Technologies has installed over 400 of such plants in 40 different countries, including the United States, China, Australia, as well as in some poverty stricken nations along the African continent.
The development of desalination technology is vitally important due to the ever-growing demand for food production worldwide and the limited levels of natural resources needed to keep production up to par with the demand. In poor countries, especially in the arid regions of Africa where fresh water is scarce and hunger is a reality, desalination is quite possibly the most important technological discovery of the new millennium.
However, up to now, poor countries seldom utilized desalination as a means to alleviate water shortages, due to the enormous amounts of electricity it takes to operate such a plant. Now, thanks to newly developed Israeli technology, desalination will be much more affordable enabling poor countries around the globe with the ability to utilize this technology.
Researchers from Ben-Gurion University along with a team of researchers from Arava R&D, developed a system which uses solar powered energy to power a desalination plant. Furthermore, in-order to reduce the overall energy needed for crop production, the Israeli researchers developed a unique technology which uses nanofiltration membranes which enable farmers to decide which minerals shall be retained from the water to feed varying crops, thus reducing the amount of water and fertilizer necessary for farming.