Water is one natural resource that is an absolute essential for all life. Because of this, humans will be in search of clean, freshwater for forever. This article from the 1960s offers some keen insight.
President John F. Kennedy called the salt water conversion project more important than putting a man in space. And for a good reason.
The world's population is increasing so fast that the supply of fresh water cannot keep up with its speed. In a September 1961 study of Struthers Wells Corporation by Troster, Singer & Co. it was stated, "Throughout the world there are enormous areas plagued with perpetual drought or near drought. Limitation of the amount of water available not only restricts agriculture and makes living conditions difficult; it also severely limits industrial development. This is so because water either directly or indirectly is a vital input factor in modern productive processes. In this country industry accounts for nearly 40 per cent of total domestic water consumption.
"The ultimate source of needed water is the ocean. Of total daily precipitation of 4,300 billion gallons, 3,000 billion gallons are lost through evaporation and transpiration of plants. Of the remaining 1,300 billion gallons, almost 90 percent is returned to the oceans.
"It has been estimated that in the United States alone $20 billion will be spent in the next 15 years to construct new water facilities. A sizable proportion will, of necessity, be directed to salt water conversion."
That is why President Kennedy hailed the nations' first sea-water purification plant at Freeport as marking "an important stride towards the achievement of one of the oldest dreams of man extracting fresh water from the seas."
The water coming from the Freeport plant is sufficient to supply the drinking water for a city. It will cost about $1 for each 1,000 gallons compared with 20 cents to 35 cents most communities pay for their water.
The Freeport plant uses a method known as "long-tube" burning of natural gas to heat salt water to steam. When the steam condenses back to water it drops the salt. This distillation method is the most conventional one of the five conversion methods to be tested at five pilot plants being built in the country to purify sea water and brackish water.
A new plant at Point Loma near San Diego will make use of multi-state flash distillation with the possible application of nuclear-process steam reactors. "It consists," said the Times, "of spraying heated sea water into a chamber in which there is lower pressure and temperature. Part of the water 'flash' into fresh water vapor and the rest goes on to repeat the process in a subsequent state."
Other processes, according to the Times story, are (1) electro-dialysis (to be used by a Webster, S.D., plant), "by which the salt in water is ionized, or given an electric charge by removal or addition of electrons. It can then be removed from the water by special membranes"; (2) forced circulation vapor compression (to be used by a Roswell, New Mexico, plant); and (3) freezing process (to be used by a Wrightsville Beach, N. C., plant).
Though this process may not seem interesting to you now, it's one you should pay attention to because salt water/fresh water conversion is an investment opportunity that won't go away any time soon.