Water Water Everywhere - Desalination Market Continues to Grow

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It should pay for investors to seek companies which have a stake in sea water desaltation, especially those which are able to come up with a process to convert sea water into drinkable water at commercially competitive prices. This article from the 1960s gives a good overview of where the market started.

Among the most prominent in the field is Struthers Wells Corporation. Though an old-line maker o£ boilers, forgings and process equipment, Struthers has moved strongly into the atomic energy, missile field and desaltation o£ water program.

"The most exciting development by far," said Struthers Wells Corporation by Troster, Singer & Co. analysts. "Is Struthers' newly devised and tested system for conversion o£ sea water into potable water."

In their view, "this low desalting method could more than double the company's present volume of business within the foreseeable future."

Troster, Singer analysts termed the Struthers method a "breakthrough in the conversion of sea water into drinkable water at commercially competitive prices."

They saw the key to interest in the Struthers freezing process in its method for controlled as opposed to flash freezing. Struthers Wells' unique patented process can produce large ice crystals, which simplifies the separation of ice from brine. Freezing, by the way, requires less energy than evaporation and eliminates the problems of scaling and corrosion caused by hot sea water in the distillation process.

The Struthers freezing process is still in the early experimental state, as are other competitive processes. The field is actually wide open for increasing competition. Other leaders in the field are Ionics and Fairbanks Whitney Corporation.

Unlike the distillation method, Ionics' process is said to be economically better suited for brackish water than for salt water. David Karr, president of Fairbanks Whitney, declared on March 29, 1961, that his firm and the state of Israel, working in a joint venture, had succeeded in designing and producing a desalting unit of commercial size that is capable of converting sea water into fresh water for human needs at a cost lower than ever before achieved.

Among the most recent entries in the water-desalting field are General Electric and North American Aviation. General Electric entered the field with the development of what is described as a radical new distillation process for desalting sea water. The process has undergone more than 1,000 hours of tests, which seems to have proven its thorough feasibility. The new system is said to be considerably more compact than previously developed conversion facilities and to be competitive with the cheapest existing system.

One of the most surprising entrants in the water-desalting field is a maker of rocket engines, the Rocketdyne division of North American Aviation, which operates a pilot plant on the basis of the acquired patents of Drs. Ludwig Rosenstein and Manuel Gorin, San Francisco inventors of a freezing process. Besides, in working with large liquid rockets, they acquired technical capability in the fields of fluid dynamics and heat transfer.

According to an estimate by Albert Shumsky, head of Rocket-dyne's desalting project, the cost of converting sea water could be reduced to 4O cents per 1,000 gallons in a plant capable of handling 10,000,000 gallons a day.

As the world's population grows, and fresh water supplies dwindle, desalination is more important now than ever. Consider this market for your next investment opportunity...it might be a refreshing change!

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