Water plays many roles in the entire life of the living things both animals and plants. The amount of drinkable water is little in comparison to the water that is not suitable for domestic human use. The percentage of water in the universe is greater than the actual land that man inhabits. The water in the universe may exist in either liquid or solid form (Emery, 2012).. Water is saline, fresh or estuarine water. Saline water is the one that has the highest salt concentration followed by estuarine water then fresh water is almost 0% of the salt concentration.
Physical properties of seawater
Thermal expansion of seawater is greater than of fresh water in the real sense the reason behind the high thermal expansivity is due to the available ions in the seawater. The thermal expansion increases with the increase in salinity. Thermal expansion coefficient increases with pressure in the seawater. Therefore, as the pressure increases a depth of the sea, it leads to greater and greater thermal expansion coefficient (Kawana, Yoshioka, Harashina & Mikuni, 2011).
The seawater records the highest refractive index of all the liquids. The high refractive index may be due to the many solvents that are in the seawater. Seawater, therefore, has a high refractive index than that of freshwater. Freshwater also has low salinity that is the largest constituent of the seawater. The refractive index is also a product of the amount of salinity (Kawana, Yoshioka, Harashina & Mikuni, 2011).
The seawater does not obey the colligative principles. Some of the principles that the seawater fails to follow are the vapor-pressure lowering and the osmotic pressure. Also, the seawater does not support the theories of freezing-point depression and the boiling-point elevation.
Chemical properties of seawater
The seawater is made up of various components. The elements of the seawater are the underlying elements that dissolve in it like solids, ions and gases. In the seawater, the percentage of the oxygen and nitrogen is higher compared to other gases. The reason is due to the underlying principle of the abundance of gases in the atmosphere.
The seawater has the largest active component in it as sodium chloride compound. The water contains a high percentage of sodium and chloride ions. The sodium and chloride ions are the ones that make the seawater salty. The salinity of the seawater is a definition of how much sodium chloride is present in the water in solution form.
The seawater contains many elements that dissolve in it as ions. The water has the highest percentage of items as the boron. The Boron element is only available in large quantities in water.
Methods used to convert seawater into drinkable water
We have two primary methods of desalination of seawater; solar desalination and the electric desalination (Emery, 2012). The solar desalination is the process that utilizes the sunlight energy in its crude form to initiate evaporation to separate the salt from the water. The electric method uses the electrical power either from the sun or any other source to start the process of separation.
The two methods employ a series of processes that remove the sodium and chloride ions from the seawater retaining the fresh water characteristics. The removal of sodium chloride is the only way the seawater converts to fresh water (Emery, 2012). The only limitation of desalination is that it is unable to remove Boron one of the active elements in the seawater.
Country that utilizes electric desalination of seawater method
Australia is one of the countries that are adopting desalination mechanism to generate enough water for its domestic use. The area has a high demand of fresh water due to drought.
Benefits and potential hazards of converting seawater to drinkable water
One of the advantages of converting seawater into potable water is availing fresh water in the ecosystem (Emery, 2012). One of the least available forms of water in nature is fresh water. Most of the sources of water we have in nature are salty and not fit for human consumption. By transforming the seawater to fresh water is a big step to environment sustainability (‘LANXESS’, 2014).
The only hazard that is available in the transformation of seawater to drinkable water is the environmental implications that the process of desalination brings to the environment. The amount of salt concentration due to the dumping of desalination waste products is becoming high and high each new day (Kawana, Yoshioka, Harashina & Mikuni, 2011).
Another potential hazard that desalination creates to the environment is the issue of boron in the seawater. Seawater has a high concentration of boron (Emery, 2012). The recent technologies that the companies are using to do desalination do not remove the boron element from the desalinated seawater. Boron is toxic to human life if it ends up in the body.
Emery, K. (1990). Seawater: It’s Composition, Properties and behaviour. Marine Geology, 95(2), 156. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0025-3227(90)90048-oKawana, S., Yoshioka, T., Harashina, H., & Mikuni, T. (1987). Seawater treatment by the continuous sand filter for seawater RO (reverse osmosis) desalination plant. Desalination, 66, 339-351.Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0011-9164(87)90216-5LANXESS Launches seawater reverse osmosis membranes. (2014). Filtration + Separation, 51(3), 10. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0015-1882 (14)70098-9