State of the Art

08th September 2006

This article in Science Magazine mentions many of the scientists on the distribution list for this blog–so if you have a hankering to see what everybody is up to–click here. The article gives a pretty good overview of the state of the art in desalination research today. Everybody is trying something different. And I think too that a number of different technologies will survive because the requirements for desalinising salty aquifers are different from desalinising seawater which is different from purifying munincipal or agricultural run off & waste.

One source of desalination savings in the future I think will be in the manufacturing process itself. For example, this article in Electronic News shows how the photovoltaic industry expects to drop prices.

Solar Moves Front and Center
Sep 5 2006 7:49AM

Solar energy is about to get cheaper—much cheaper. In fact, the cost of installing solar panels on a roof is expected to drop to about a third of what it now costs over the next several years, turning an experimental industry into a mainstream boom.

In real dollars, that means the average residential installation will drop to $8,000 from the current $24,000, not including state and federal rebates

That said, photovoltaic cells are not like semi permiable membranes but they will both respond to economies of scale. As the article mentions the cost savings won’t come from solar technology itself.

The trigger this time isn’t the solar technology itself, which has shown only slow improvement in recent years. It’s the equipment used to make solar cells. Coupling that manufacturing equipment with the current processes used in making semiconductors is expected to add huge economies of scale.

Next week we’ll look into some interesting manufacturing methods.

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