The Motion of the Ocean: Using Sea Waves to Desalinate Seawater

This novel technology, aptly called Wave2O, harnesses wave energy to power a reverse-osmosis desalination system. Complicated as it may sound, reverse osmosis desalination is simply a way of filtering water through a membrane that removes salt and other unwanted particles. Pushing the seawater through the membrane requires a significant amount of energy — a potential problem in a country with limited electrical grid capacity — but Wave2O bypasses this issue by converting energy from the sea.

Water moves with incredible force. It can wreck ships, wipe out entire villages, and even carve through land to form massive canyons. If you have ever been wiped out while surfing, you know how powerful ocean waves can be. Wave2O takes advantage of this natural and renewable power source through a multiple step process known as wave energy conversion. First, ocean waves move flaps attached to the sea floor. The motion of the flaps then powers hydraulic pumps, which send high-pressure seawater through a reverse-osmosis desalination system.

In addition to being less expensive than diesel-powered desalination, Wave2O is also far more sustainable. According to Olivier Ceberio, the co-founder of Resolute Marine, replacing Cape Verde’s diesel-driven desalination systems with Wave2O could lower carbon emissions — a key driver of climate change — by over 4,000 tons per year. Theoretically, Wave2O could even be used to generate electricity, thereby providing developing countries and other communities in need with both freshwater and a sustainable power source.

Depending on how well Wave2O performs in Cape Verde, Resolute Marine’s technology could be used to desalinate seawater in coastal areas all over the world, thus unlocking one of this watery planet’s most plentiful resources. Through scientific innovation, perhaps Tantalus can finally quench his thirst.

Works Cited

Frisch, Lucy. “Addressing Water Scarcity with Ocean Waves.” Spring Nature, 4 June 2020.

Hurley, Bill. “Create the Future: Water Desalination, Powered by Waves.” Tech Briefs, 4 Oct. 2019.

Sengupta, Somini, and Weiyi Cai. “A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises.” The New York Times, 6 Aug. 2019.

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