The nexus of nuclear desalination and environment


The global exponential population growth combined with the increase in per capita water-usage water demand creates the need for sustainable large-scale seawater desalination systems. Seawater desalination has been considered a viable option to meet the growing demand for potable water in many countries. However, desalination is an energy-intensive process thereby requiring large inexpensive energy that are involatile and can be assured for the long term. The interest in nuclear desalination has been growing due to its relatively low impact on the environment and other sustainable benefits. This was evident from the increasing number of countries considering nuclear energy not only for sustainable energy supply but also for seawater desalination. However, nuclear desalination facilities operating today are relatively small, and the associated environmental consequences and benefits have not been examined. Yet, they can offer some information based on their successful demonstrated performance over than 200 reactor-years of operating experience accumulated worldwide. These facilities aimed to confirm the technical and economic viability of nuclear desalination under country specific conditions. Furthermore, based on accumulated experience with such facilities, a conclusion can be tested that nuclear desalination offers mitigation to the adverse environmental impact caused by large-scale desalination plants using other fuel sources. This paper summarizes the experience in Member States on nuclear desalination with emphasis on its impact on the environment compared to conventional desalination. This examination offers an overview of potential marine, coastal, atmospheric and socio-economic issues and impacts that may be expected with nuclear desalination as a basis for future environmental impact assessments.

1st International Conference on Desalination and Environment