SECURING AFRICA’S WATER SUPPLY THROUGH NUCLEAR DESALINATION

By Sibusiso Mabuza a Ph.D. student in Mathematics at The University of Houston

The human can only survive by changing nature. As science and technology advances rapidly to higher levels, we get answers to the most complex of problems in life. One of these complex issues, currently facing Southern Africa and indeed other parts of Africa is the shortage of clean fresh water. In Swaziland for instance, the question has come up on several occasions on how a reliable source of fresh clean water can be obtained, especially in the drought stricken lowveld region where boreholes are an absolute necessity. The question is, how can the persistent drought that has brought about harsh realities to the rural subsistence farmer in the Ngwavuma valley as well as to the sophisticated vineyards of the Western Cape be subdued? Population growth, economic expansion, and increased pollution by mines and industries continue to make it harder and harder to get clean sources of water. This leaves us with no alternative but to seek revolutionary cutting edge solutions. Could Nuclear Desalination be the answer?

We are surrounded by water, well seawater, which is not drinkable. The process of nuclear desalination would use nuclear power to facilitate the reverse osmosis that is a key step of the process. Results were produced by some research conducted saying that desalination through nuclear power can go a long way to producing the much needed freshwater. As reported in the Science Daily, nuclear power could have limited environmental impact since there will be fewer emissions, and the nuclear plants will be sited offshore carrying out desalination as well as producing electricity for communities inland. Comparing this to fossil fuel process employed in places such as Israel, this might prove more advantageous. A scientific/industrial project of this magnitude might seem farfetched for Southern Africa, but it could open new doors in the nuclear tech industry and spur growth in other sectors. Maybe it is about time we take water from the sea to the land instead of the opposite natural process. Maybe it is about time Africans change nature to better suit our ever changing way of life.

Bokamoso

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