Rossi: E-Cat Heat for Desalination is 'Not Competitive' — Electricity, Maybe

One of the hopes that many people have if the E-Cat becomes commercially available is that it could help with providing fresh water to many parts of the world that are now arid and unfit for agriculture.

This topic came up on the Journal of Nuclear Physics today with a reader saying:

All that is needed [for desalination] is boiling water and a condenser- and your low cost energy to make it practical.

To make a quantum leap, pardon the pun, could you irrigate the deserts? Could you turn the Sinai Desert into an oasis instead of a war torn wasteland?

Andrea Rossi responded:

I have no idea. I am not an expert of desalination, but costs of desalination are already very low, as far as I know: experts in past analyzed the possibility to desalinate with the E-Cat, but it turned out not to be competitive.

The two main methods of desalination used today are: (1) reverse osmosis, in which salt water is forced through membranes — a process which uses a great deal of electricity (around 40 per cent of the operational cost is the cost of electricity) — and (2) multi-stage flash distillation (MSF) where salt water is pre-heated and then boiled and condensed to produce electricity.

Using cheap heat from an E-Cat would could lower costs in the MSF process, but even then, it may not be competitive with reverse osmosis. Apparently mineral scaling in MSF is a significant problem which requires expensive maintenance. It sounds like cheaper electricity is the key to cheaper desalination, and it sounds like E-Cat electricity generation will take a while to come online. Andrea Rossi writes (admitting he is no expert on distillation):

The fact that when and if we will be able to sell electric power producing E-Cats will make cheaper electricity is true and, in this case, convenience should be generalized, but the desalination made by steam is not competitive with the reverse osmosis by an order of magnitude.

So will the appearance of the E-Cat in the marketplace lead to a new era of cheap and abundant fresh water for all? It sounds like that remains a possibility, but it sounds like the production of cheap electricity is the key, and that could take a lot of time and engineering.