Energy and environmental issues in desalination

Sydney Miller, Hilla Shemer, Raphael Semiat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


The growth in population and in the standard of living in the developing countries coupled with inefficient use of water and pollution of available water resources have driven desalination to be a major source of fresh water for both domestic and industrial purposes. The potential environmental impacts of desalination are related to the energy generation process as well as to the design and management of the desalination process. The importance of these impacts depends on the type of technology used. This article summarizes the environmental impacts of most aspects of desalination processes, highlighting the recognized problems and their available industrial solutions. Special emphasis is placed on the energy as it is one of the most important environmental issues and a major expense in desalination. It is shown that the energy consumption of desalination processes is very low in comparison with the total national energy consumption for electricity and transportation. The effects of concentrate release into the sea are confined to a small area around the point of concentrate discharge. Other possible environmental issues such as impingement and entrainment of marine life on the intake side are negligible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-8
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2015


  • Desalination
  • Energy
  • Evaporation
  • Reverse osmosis
  • Sustainability


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