Published: 17 August 2016

Sustainable solutions for the low-energy production of fresh water

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) predicts that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in areas of absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world's population will live in water-stressed areas.

Surrey’s research has developed low-energy desalination processes to convert seawater, leading to increased freshwater availability in Europe and Asia.

The University has a strong legacy of research in membrane separation and osmosis, and it is in this field that Surrey’s Centre for Osmosis Research and Application (CORA) successfully developed a manipulated forward osmosis process.

Adopting Surrey’s platform technology in renewable energy, the spinout ‘Modern Water plc’ was established and desalination plants were constructed in Gibraltar and Oman. Local responses were highly positive and the plants provide the public with high-quality water at a reasonable cost.

Offering a much lower environmental impact in comparison to conventional reverse osmosis and thermal desalination plants, the process provides a more sustainable solution for water treatment in the community.

Modern Water were the winners of the Energy/Environmental award at the Royal Academy of Engineering for their innovative development of water purification using desalination technologies.

The University of Surrey also received the Queen's Anniversary Prize for its significant contribution to water research in this area.  

Find out more out about the spin-out company, Modern Water.

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