Nuclear desalination: A sustainable route to water security

Elsevier, Desalination, Volume 542, 2022, 116082
Rami S. El-Emam, Hasan Ozcan, Rupsha Bhattacharyya, Leon Awerbuch

Nuclear desalination of seawater or brackish water represents an important application of nuclear energy. There is increasing interest in this pathway of augmenting freshwater resources in countries facing water stress and the simultaneous need to decarbonize their energy systems as part of their climate action plans. This work presents an overview of the technology options suitable for nuclear desalination, their energy consumption, and economic characteristics, emissions profiles, deployment history, and current global interest in such programs. It also presents an analysis of the externalities and barriers that may have a significant impact on their viability and success. This work highlights the relevant facts and figures associated with nuclear desalination projects and serves as a source of information to researchers, and technology developers and as a policy brief to decision makers. Nuclear desalination processes are found to be competitive with current fossil fuel-based desalination programs, with associated life cycle carbon emissions of nuclear-driven options being two to three orders of magnitude less than that of the fossil fuel-based route.