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Water Purification Methods in the Middle East

Introduction

This report discusses the methods of water purification and their usage in the countries of the Middle East. The problem of water purification is critical at present due to numerous environmental problems the world is currently facing. Freshwater is extremely necessary for survival. It is rather concerning that “over a quarter of the world’s population today are suffering from inadequate freshwater supply” (Leblanc and Andrews 249), which is harmful to the health of these people. In general, water purification consists in removing all the undesirable substances and contaminants from raw water; it is the process when “polluted, dirty, unhealthy water is transformed into clean, suitable for drinking and everyday usage water” (Macleod para 1). Despite the common idea that the water should be purified for consumption purposes only, water purification should be carried out for many other purposes as well. Purified water is also needed in medicine and pharmacy, as well as for industrial applications. With regards to this problem, different water purification methods have been developed to supply people with fresh water.

The specific purpose of this report is to describe and exemplify the following methods of water purification: desalination, distillation, ionization, and reverse osmosis. The report will be of particular interest to people suffering from water contamination and companies choosing between different methods of water purification. Not only will the methods be discussed, but their use in the Middle East will be described because this part of the world is in bad need of water purification.

The report begins with the background section discussing the state of water resources in the Middle East. This is followed by the description of different methods of water purification and usage of these methods in the Middle East. Finally, certain recommendations for water purification in the Middle East are given.

Background

The Middle East encompasses the countries of northern Africa and southeastern Asia. Water shortage is a common problem for these countries; for instance, Jewish settlers “consume more than four times as much water as do West Bank Palestinians, who average only 88 liters per person per day. This is less than the 100 liters considered to be the minimum for an acceptable quality of life” (Hecht para 3). The population of the Middle East needs fresh water for many purposes, starting from drinking and cooking and ending with sanitation and agricultural needs. This being the reason, the question of water purification is urgent in these countries.

Water Purification Methods

Desalination

Desalination

Desalination is one of the best methods to meet the demands of the population in freshwater. This method consists in removing salt and other minerals from the water. This allows turning seawater into freshwater which may be further used for consumption or irrigation. A by-product of this process is table salt which can be further used in cooking. There exist different methods of desalination. The most common processes are “Multi-Stage Flash (MSF), Multiple-Effect Evaporation (MEE), Vapor Compression Distillation” (Leblanc and Andrews 250) of which the former two are the most widely employed. Desalination is a relatively cost-effective process; however, when it is carried out on a large scale, it requires considerable amounts of energy.

With regards to the Middle East countries, desalination is widely practiced there, especially in Saudi Arabia where the world’s largest desalination plant is situated.

Sabia Desalination Plant has made Saudi Arabia the world’s largest producer of de.

Distillation

Water distillation is one of the oldest and most convenient methods of water purification. The technologies within this method are quite simple, which is why they can be used even at home. In general, distillation consists of heating the water, boiling it to the point when it starts vaporizing, and cooling it down, thus returning it to the liquid state. As a result of this process, all the contaminants and minerals which are present in the water remain in the boiler when the water vaporizes because they cannot be transformed from the solid into the liquid state. There exist several exceptions for this process. The matter is that such contaminants as pesticides and volatile organic compounds cannot be removed in the course of distillation because “these substances can convert into a stream at the same temperature that water does and then condense and spoil the pure water” (Macleod para 26). Another problem connected with distillation is that it removes all the minerals from the water making it practically dead. Water distillers remove all the chemicals, viruses, heavy metals, and parasites from the water this is why it is still better to consume the water purified in this way than unpurified at all. Water distillation is a cost-efficient method this is why it is widely used in the countries of the Middle East.

Ionization

Water ionization is also a popular method of water purification. This method, however, is more expensive than the two mentioned above this is why it is affordable to not all the people in the Middle East. However, it is one of the simplest methods as well because it consists of mere usage of water filters which are based on ionization; quite often, silver carbon blocks are inserted into the filters to make purification even more effective. The principle of the filters’ work is not complicated: “Negatively charged electrodes are situated inside the water filter and they attract the positive ions from the water. Thus the water is full of negatively charged ions. Such water is called alkaline and considered to be very healthy” (Macleod para 10). Drinking such water helps to improve people’s health because it balances the human body’s pH and eliminates toxins present in the body. The greatest benefit of this purification method is that even tap water can be purified at home. Unfortunately, not all the Middle East population can use the advantages of this water purification method.

Reverse Osmosis

Reverse Osmosis is one of the varieties of water desalination, though it is based on entirely different principles. It is also one of the most common methods of water purification. It involves “passing seawater through a thin-film membrane at a pressure of 1,000 to 1,500 per square inch. About one-third of this water emerges with low salt content; the other two-thirds … is then returned to the sea” (Hecht para 10). This method has been widely utilized in the Middle East over the past several decades through the frequency of its usage is again connected with finances. Apart from being used for desalination, reverse osmosis is also used for regular water purification and, with the development of technologies, it becomes more and more advanced and perfected, especially in terms of maintenance: “Some water filters have automatic membrane flushing equipment that cleans the membrane” (Macleod para 4). In addition, reverse osmosis water filters remove radium from water, which is vital for people who live near the nuclear power stations.

Conclusion

Therefore, there are four most commonly used methods of water purification, namely desalination, distillation, ionization, and reverse osmosis. Each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages but, in the case with Middle East countries, the main dilemma consists in the cost of these methods. Since not all people can afford water ionization and reverse osmosis filters, distillation and simple water boiling remain the most common water purification methods used in Middle East countries.

Recommendations

  • Concerning the four main methods of water purification, it is recommended that
  • The countries of the Middle East should pay more attention to their technological development, which is likely to improve the living standards of the population and facilitate their access to different methods of water purification
  • The population of the Middle East countries should never ignore water purification and should use at least those methods that are accessible to them (simple boiling will make water less contaminated and will be not so harmful to health)
  • The countries of the Middle East do not save on water purification because contaminated water harms the health of the population.

Works Cited

Hecht, James L. “The Fight Over Water in the Mddle East.” Religion Online.

Leblanc, Jimmy and Andrews, John. “Solar-Powered Desalination: A Modelling and Experimental Study.” Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering RMIT University.

Macleod, John. “What is Water Purification? Purify Water.”

Miller, Henry. “Shoaiba Desalination Plant, Saudi Arabia.”