Timeline of water desalination
This is a timeline of water desalination, attempring to describe major events in the development of the technology and production. Key developments in the reverse osmosis process are described. Also, major and historic desalination plants are described.
|Time period||Development summary|
|16th century||Desalination contraptions based on evaporation are incorporated into boats, allowing them to be self-sufficient in the event of an emergency.|
|19th century||Distillation is commercialized by companies such as Caird & Rayner (a brand which still exists today), with firms located in various countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States. In the late century, the first major technical advance in desalination technology is the development of the Multiple Effect Distillation (MED) process.|
|1930s||Thermal distillation begins use in several large plants, primarily in the Middle East.|
|1950s||Scientists begin looking at alternatives to thermal desalination by studying membrane processes. Electrodialysis (ED) is the first of these processes to be developed commercially.|
|1960s||Membrane technologies arise as a result of a breakthrough in the use of polymer films for separating salt from water in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Anisotropic cellulose acetate membranes are the industry standard through the decade. By the late 1960s, commercial desalination systems producing up to 8,000 m3/day begin to be installed in various parts of the world.|
|1970s||Fuel oil cost increases very sharply, affecting strongly the desalination cost, especially in processes with high specific energy consumption. A great effort is made in many countries to shift from desalination by distillation to desalination by other means. Low-pressure multi-effect distillation (MED) and improved reverse osmosis (RO) evolve as two new technologies capable to desalt seawater. The introduction of isobaric energy recovery technology significantly reduces the operating costs of seawater reverse osmosis. By the second half of the decade, the reverse osmosis process is considered in many regional developing programs as an option for small and large seawater desalination plants. Larger scale commercial reverse osmosis and electrodialysis/electrodialysis reversal systems begin to be used more extensively.|
|1980s||Desalination technology becomes a fully commercial enterprise. Synthetic membranes begin to play an increasingly crucial role in water desalination. Membrane distillation develops commercially on a small scale during the decade. In the mid-1980s, low-pressure nanofiltration membranes are introduced by all of the major reverse osmosis companies.|
|1990s||The use of reverse osmosis desalination technologies for municipal water supplies becomes commonplace. The continuous improvement and cost reduction in RO technology increases, in most cases, the economic benefits of SWRO over the distillation process.|
|Recent years||Today, desalination can be achieved by using thermal or membrane processes, or a hybrid combination. Most of the desalinated water is currently produces in the Middle east.|
|Year||Event type||Details||Geographical location|
|400 BC–300 BC||In his Meteorologica, Aristotle writes that "Salt water when it turns into vapour becomes sweet and the vapour does not form salt water again when it condenses".|
|1850s||Pfeffer, Traube and others study osmotic phenomena with ceramic membranes.|
|1869||The first patent for a desalination process was granted in England.||United Kingdom|
|1869||Facility||The first water-distillation plant is built by the British government at Aden in Yemen, to supply ships stopping at the Red Sea port.||Yemen|
|1881||Facility||The world's first commercial traditional desalination plant is built in Sleima, Malta.||Malta|
|1928||Facility||The world's first land-based distillation plant is built in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles.||Netherlands Antilles|
|1930||Facility||The first large still to provide water for commercial purposes is built in Aruba.||Aruba|
|1931||Technology||The term reverse osmosis is coined, and the process is patented as a method of desalting water.|
|1950s||Technology||Weirs of Cathcart in Scotland develop the multi-stage flash distillation process, which would have significant development and wide application throughout the next decade due to both to its economical scale and its ability to operate on low-grade steam.||United Kingdom|
|1952||Law||The United States Congress passes “The Saline Water Act” to provide federal support for desalination.||United States|
|1954||Facility||The first desalination plant opens in Qatar.||Qatar|
|1955||Technology||Multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) appears as the first large-scale modern desalination process.||United States|
|1957||Facility||The first multi stage flash distillation plant is built in Kuwait.||Kuwait|
|1959||Scientific development||Reverse osmosis: Breton and Reid demonstrate the desalination capability of cellulose acetate film.|
|1959||Facility||The first multi-effect distillation (MED) plant is constructed in Aruba.||Aruba|
|1960||Technology||The first synthetic and functional reverse osmosis membrane is produced at the University of California, made from cellulose acetate. This membrane is capable of blocking the salts while allowing water to pass through it at a reasonable rate of flow under high pressure.|
|1960-1965||Technology||Electrodialysis is commercially introduced, providing a cost-effective way to desalt brackish water and spurring considerable interest in the whole field if using desalting technologies to produce potable water for municipal use.|
|1962||Technology||Reverse osmosis: Asymmetric cellulose acetate membrane is developed.|
|1963||Scientific development||Loeb and Sourirajan at the University of California in Los Angeles show that an asymmetric cellulose acetate membrane can be used for desalination. The permeabilities of these early membranes are low and RO membranes are considered a novelty separation technique rather than a soution to desalination.||United States|
|1963||Facility||Reverse osmosis: first practical spiral-wound module is developed by General Atomics.||United States|
|1963||Scientific development||Reverse osmosis: the asymmetric cellulose acetate membrane structure is elucidated and the solution-diffusion model of membrane transport is identified.|
|1964||Facility||In Spain, the first desalination plant is constructed in Lanzarote.||Spain|
|1964||Technology||The cellulose acetate thin film composite membrane concept is developed.|
|1965||Facility||The first commercial desalination plant using reverse osmosis is inaugurated in California at the Coalinga desalination plant, used for brackish water.||United States|
|1965||Facility||An 1 MGD (3,785 m3/year) MSF dual-purpose plant starts operating in Eilat, Israel, with an atual water cost amounted to about $0.3m3. The relatively low cost is due to the very low fuel-oil prices if $10-15/ton prevailing at the time.||Israel|
|c.1965||Production||Virtually all the world's seawater desalination capacity (about 1,000 m3/day) is in the Middle East and is produced by multistage flash (MSF) distillation.|
|1966||Publication||Desalination, the first international journal for desalting and purification of water, is founded by Miriam Balaban.|
|1966||Publication||Israel publishes a joint feasibility study of a 200 MW - 100 MGD (378,500 m3/year) nuclear dual-purpose plant.|
|1967||Technology||Reverse osmosis: the B-15 polyamide hollow fiber permeator is developed.|
|1967||Technology||The first commercially successful hollow fiber module is released.|
|1970||Technology||Reverse osmosis: the cellulose acetate blend membrane is developed.|
|1970||Technology||Reverse osmosis: the B-9 polyamide hollow fiber permeator is developed.|
|1971–1974||Technology||Reverse osmosis: The cellulose triacetate hollow fiber permeator is developed.|
|1972||Technology||Reverse osmosis: The interfacial composite membrane is developed.|
|1972||Technology||Reverse osmosis: The B-10 polyamide hollow fiber permeator is developed.|
|1973||Reverse osmosis: The PDC-1000 thin film composite membrane is developed.|
|1974||Facility||The first sea water reverse osmosis desalination plant comes into operation.||Bermuda|
|1975||Facility||A large seawater desalination plant is built in Jiddah, using interfacial composite membranes, introduced by Fluid Systems. The construction of the plant is considered a milestone in reverse osmosis development.||Saudi Arabia|
|1976||Technology||Reverse osmosis: Fluid Systems starts commerciallization of aryl-alkyl polyetherurea thin film composite membrane.|
|1978||Technology||Reverse osmosis: the first fully aromatic thin film composite (FT-30) is developed.|
|1981||Technology||John Cadotte patents the design for the three-layer TFC membrane that would later become industry standard. The layer provides high permeability while maintaining selectivity for water.|
|1986||Technology||Low pressure nanofiltration membrane becomes widely available.|
|1986||Technology||Reverse osmosis: the B-15 polyamide hollow fiber permeator is developed.|
|1986||Technology||Reverse osmosis: several companies modify current membrane lines for low pressure operation.|
|1986||Technology||Reverse osmosis: the fully aromatic polyamide thin film composite membrane is developed.|
|1998||Facility||Grace-Davison and Mobil install the first large hyperfiltration solvent separation plant at Beaumont Texas refinery.|
|2000||Statistics||About 80 per cent of water demand for the domestic and industrial sectors in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and United Arab Emirates is supplied by water production using desalination. In Saudi Arabia and Oman, water production using desalination supplies about 45 per cent of the water demands, with the remaining 55 per cent being supplied from ground waters.||Middle East|
|2005||Production||More than 10,500 desalination plants producing a total of more than 55 billion litres (in excess of 14.6 billion gallons) of potable water per day are in operation throughout the world.|
|2009||Facility||The current largest desalination plant in the world is commissioned in Hadera, Israel. Built at a cost of around US$500 million, it uses reverse osmosis.||Israel|
|2009 (July)||Facility||The largest desalination plant in Europe is inaugurated in Spain. The Barcelona-Llobregat desal plant provides drinking water to 20% of the population in the region, nearly 1.3 million people.||Spain|
|2010||Production||The largest producers of desalinated water are Saudi Arabia, accounting for about 17 percent of total global output, and the United Arab Emirates, with 13.4 percent. The United States is third, accounting for roughly 13 percent of the total output (mostly in Florida, Texas, and California).|
|2014||Production||As of 2014, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest desalinated water producer in the world, and it currently produces about one-fifth of the world productions.||Saudi Arabia|
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How the timeline was built
The initial version of the timeline was written by User:Sebastian.
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