Hi everyone! In the next four weeks I have three major projects due, one of which is for my grad class, ISE 576 Industrial Ecology: Technology-Environment Interaction. The purpose of the project is to apply the industrial ecology tools to an actual technology system and analyze it on a life-cycle basis. For our project my team is focusing on water desalination.

Southern California is in the middle of a drought and one of the possibilities of relieving this situation is by looking to other sources of potable water such as water desalination. There is currently a desalination plant being constructed in Carlsbad, CA to service San Diego County, to be completed by 2016. This plant desalinates water by reverse osmosis, which is the most common desalination process. Essentially water is pushed through a membrane to remove the salt and other solutes. Reverse osmosis is typically able to convert up to 50% of the seawater to freshwater.

Another way to increase the amount of water is to decrease the amount that is being lost in pipe transport. The City of San Diego is working to replace the old and damaged cast iron pipes with new steel pipes by 2020. We are comparing the two methods by performing a life-cycle analysis to determine which is the most cost effective and sustainable option for San Diego. When we finish the project we plan to apply for The Fleischer Prize in Green Technology!