Date of Award
Bachelor of science (BS)
Elizabeth M. Bruch, J.D., Ph.D.
Freshwater availability is a growing global concern, and desalination is often presented as the solution, but from this important technology comes issues of toxic waste. Ecosystems are delicate areas that contain species adapted to that specific location, and any chemical or physical changes can disrupt the fitness of species. The concentrate byproduct waste from desalination plants is toxic to species if the concentrate is not compatible with the receiving water body. A critical review of scientific articles, industry-leading books, conversations with industry experts, and information from the American Membrane Technology Association conference was used to analyze the current knowledge. Species health and environmental conditions are affected by chemical changes, such as an increase in salinity levels, which may be lethal or detrimental to growth. Desalination process types determine different chemical concentrations and physical characteristics, and depending on the receiving water body, the concentrate needs alteration to be compatible with the receiving water body. Solutions vary by location, but possibilities include beneficial ecological options that restore habitat water volume, economic benefits that use the concentrate, and technical changes that blend the concentrate more effectively in surface water outfalls. Identifying the potential ecological issues from concentrate waste and developing sustainable practices before harm is caused will protect valuable ecosystems that connect all life on earth.
Hanley, Ryan, "Desalination Concentrate Disposal: Ecological Effects and Sustainable Solutions" (2018). Global Honors Theses. 54.
Biodiversity Commons, Civil and Environmental Engineering Commons, Environmental Chemistry Commons, Environmental Education Commons, Environmental Health and Protection Commons, Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment Commons, Environmental Policy Commons, Environmental Studies Commons, Inorganic Chemistry Commons, Marine Biology Commons, Membrane Science Commons, Natural Resources and Conservation Commons, Natural Resources Management and Policy Commons, Oceanography Commons, Other Chemical Engineering Commons, Other Chemistry Commons, Other Earth Sciences Commons, Other Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Commons, Other Environmental Sciences Commons, Other Life Sciences Commons, Physical Chemistry Commons, Science and Technology Studies Commons, Sustainability Commons, Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology Commons, Urban Studies and Planning Commons, Water Resource Management Commons