Inactive warships as desalination plants to provide fresh water

October 1st, 2008 - 3:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 1 (IANS) Desalination is a practical way to providing fresh water to 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack access to the life-giving liquid — the lack of which causes the death of 1.6 million children each year. Geoscientist David Kreamer of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, noting that at least 37 percent of the world’s population lives within 100 km of a coastline, said that they could get enough drinking water by desalination.

Desalination is not a novel idea, said Kreamer. US Navy aircraft carriers, for example, have had to generate fresh water to help sustain large crews while at sea for six months or more.

In fact, said Kreamer, such ships are ideal platforms for desalination. And what better use for large, mothballed ocean vessels currently dry-docked or cluttering working harbours?

The US alone has a fairly large mothballed fleet, including inactive warships and the merchant marine reserve fleet. Kreamer’s work examines the practicality of recycling decommissioned US Navy vessels, especially with an eye toward using old aircraft carriers, to become mobile desalinisation plants, according to a release of the Geological Society of America.

When ships meet the end of their service life with the US Navy, they are often quite serviceable. Kreamer notes that the decommissioning of the John F. Kennedy multipurpose aircraft carrier in August 2007 saved the Navy about 1.2 billion dollars, yet the vessel itself is still sea worthy and could be a good candidate for work as a desalinization plant.

A change in purpose would save money in other areas as well. The John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier had a crew of about 5,200, but says Kreamer: “You wouldn’t have as many people working a desalination plant.”

He will present his idea on Oct 5 at the Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies, in Houston, Texas.

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