Using technology to make it rain
By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may experience water shortages. From controlling the weather to extracting water from the air, innovative technology is being used to help find a sustainable source of clean drinking water for the world.
Dubai is located in one of the driest regions in the world. The growing population of the city increases the demand for water and drives the development of new water supply technologies. One of the more unique technologies being developed is cloud seeding.
What is cloud seeding?
Cloud seeding is a weather manipulation technique that increases the ability of clouds to produce rain.
Before a plane takes off, meteorologists must choose the right cloud to seed. The process only works in cumulus clouds because of their internal updraft. Pilots position their aircraft at the bottom of the cloud airflow and fire flares loaded with hygroscopic salt particles.
As the sodium chloride and potassium chloride particles rise toward the cloud body, they attract tiny water droplets. These water droplets combine and increase their size, causing them to fall from the sky due to their weight.
In regions with little rainfall each year, it is a valuable water resource that requires minimal energy use. One hour of cloud seeding can bring back 100,000 cubic meters of water.
Nowadays, More than 50 countries around the world are seeding clouds. This process is used not only to increase precipitation, but also to reduce hail size in colder regions. Hail suppression can greatly reduce the damage caused by thunderstorms.
Turn seawater into drinking water
In desert landscapes with few lakes or rivers, people turn to the sea for a supply of drinking water. Currently, the coastal city of Dubai gets more than 90% of its water from the coastline.
By using the reverse osmosis process, large desalination plants can produce large volumes of drinking water.
Vanesa Fernández Membrillera, a member of O&M ACCIONA Senior Management and Commercial Manager, explains why this process is so popular in the Gulf region. “The biggest benefit of this process is that 98% of our world is covered by seawater,” she says.
Facilities such as the Jebel Ali desalination plant have been designed in line with Dubai’s Integrated Water Resources Management Strategy, with the goal of reducing water consumption by 30% by 2030.
water from the atmosphere
Harnessing the power of the sun, hydroelectric panels can produce drinking water from the moisture in the air. Water farms using this technology do not require power, meaning they can be used away from the grid, away from existing infrastructure.
Sofia Berglund from Source global explains how hydropanels can be beneficial in polluted areas. From the very beginning, all we have in the water before it is mineralized is pure H2O. So no pollutants, nothing can get into the water.”
Manhattan’s founder, Dr. Saeed Al Hassan explains how solar power in many parts of Europe can be greater than solar power produced in desert climates because rainfall in Europe cleans the air and pushes dust and sand particles into the soil.
As the world population continues to grow exponentially, our water consumption will increase as well. Innovations like this are vital for introducing new forms of water harvesting.
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