China has become the first country in the world with the capacity to produce large amounts of fresh water through the desalination of sea ice, according to a university research team and a Chinese company.
A research team from Beijing Normal University signed a sea ice desalination technology transfer agreement with Beijing Huahaideyuan Technology Co. Ltd earlier this month. The company is expected to be able to produce at least 1 billion cubic meters of fresh water annually by 2023.
The research team has mastered the basic principles and technology of sea ice desalination and developed the equipment to be used in the process, including an ice-breaking platform and an ice-gatherer. The cost of desalination is expected to fall to 4 yuan per tonne.
According to Gu Wei, the head of the research team, China's sea ice desalination program started in 1995 when Shi Peijun, a professor from Beijing Normal University, realized that low saline ice could ease the water shortage around the Pan-Bohai Bay area in north China.
In winter in high-latitude oceans there are large quatities of sea ice, which is being recognized by scientists as a new source of fresh water.