By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could be affected by water scarcity. From adjusting the weather to pulling water from thin air, innovative technology is being used to find a sustainable supply of drinking water for the world.
Dubai is located in one of the driest regions in the world. The city’s growing population increases the demand for water and drives the development of new water harvesting technologies. One of the most unique technologies currently being developed is cloud seeding.
What is cloud seeding?
Cloud seeding is a weather modification technique that improves a cloud’s ability to produce rain.
Before an airplane takes to the skies, forecasters must choose the right cloud to seed. The method only works for cumulus clouds because of their inner upward pull. Pilots position their planes at the bottom of the cloud train and ignite flares loaded with hygroscopic salt particles.
As the sodium chloride and potassium chloride particles rise into the cloud body, they attract tiny water droplets. These water droplets combine and grow larger, causing them to fall from the sky due to their weight.
In regions where there is little rainfall each year, this is a valuable water source that requires minimal energy consumption. An hour of cloud seeding can return up to 100,000 cubic meters of water.
More than 50 countries around the world are currently practicing cloud seeding. This process is used not only to increase the amount of precipitation, but also to reduce the size of hailstones in colder regions. Hail suppression can dramatically reduce damage from thunderstorms.
Making drinking water out of sea water
In desert landscapes with few lakes or rivers, the residents look to the sea to obtain drinking water. Currently, the coastal city of Dubai gets more than 90% of its water from its coast.
With the process of reverse osmosis, large seawater desalination plants can produce large quantities of drinking water.
Vanesa Fernandez Membrillera, ME Management & Commercial Manager, O&M ACCIONA explains why this process is so popular in the Gulf region. She said: “The main advantage of this process is that our earth is 98% covered with sea water.”
Facilities like the Jebel Ali desalination plant are designed according to the Dubai Integrated Water Resources Management Strategy with the goal of reducing water consumption by 30% by 2030.
water from thin air
With the power of the sun, hydropanels can produce drinking water from the humidity in the air. Water farms using this technology require no input power, meaning they can be used off-grid from existing infrastructure.
Source Global’s Sofia Berglund explains how hydropanels can be beneficial in polluted areas. She told Euronews: “The only thing we have in the water from the start, before mineralization, is pure H2O. So no pollutants, nothing can get into the water.”
Manhattan founder Dr. Saeed Al Hassan, explains how in many parts of Europe, solar energy can often outperform solar energy generated in desert climates, as rainfall in Europe drives dust and sand particles onto the ground and cleans the air.
As the world population continues to grow exponentially, our water consumption will also increase. Innovations like these are critical to providing new ways to stay hydrated.