The development of innovative water desalination and reclamation systems for society will require the merging of world-class technologies possessed by Japanese companies, universities, and other research organizations. The greatest challenge will be to develop desalination and material separation technologies based on robust water separation membranes composed of nanocarbons and other novel materials. If such membranes could be manufactured at low cost, they would open the way not only to 1) the widespread desalination of seawater, but also through combination with oil, particle, and heavy metal adsorption removal and other primary treatments, to 2) the treatment of produced water generated in conjunction with petroleum and other resource extraction, and 3) the desalination and purification of brackish lake and pond water and recovery of valuable resources.
The desalination of seawater is already being carried out on an industrial scale in Asia, the Middle East, and other regions using reverse osmosis membranes made with petroleum derivatives. However, less expensive solutions are required to promote the use of desalinized water in agriculture, which accounts for 70% of water use. Innovative use of carbon and other novel materials to develop energy-efficient, high-performance water production systems would likely put such systems within the reach of developing countries.
To this end, the technologies developed using novel materials need to be modularized and incorporated into manufacturing plants to identify and remedy any real world production system problems. This Center brings together people from universities, research institutes, private enterprise, local government, and other organizations from across Japan to create a robust organization for collaboration between academia, industry, and government to develop and deploy innovative desalination and water reclamation systems.
<Outline of future society>We create safe and secure water from various water resources, such as seawater and oily water, and circulate it to richly provide the world with different water uses including drinking water, daily water, agriculture, and industry. In this century of the population explosion, we significantly contribute to a world sustainability through increasing food productivity and improving hygienic environment by an abundant supply of water. In addition, we contribute to the richer living environment by stimulating global economy and facilitating exports and imports of increased agricultural products.
R&D challenges derived from the "backcasting approach",
to meet the worldwide social needs of the future
Affordable seawater desalination achieved through energy saving
- Effective energy saving, mass production of clean water, and major reductions in maintenance costs
Reclamation of produced water from conventional/nonconventional resources
- Removal of inorganic salts and toxic materials, oil recovery, etc
Development of utilization technologies for brackish lake and pond water and recovery of valuable resources
- Separation of metal ion from water, etc
Development of highly innovative water-related science and technology
- Resolution of issues related to filtration mechanism of separation membranes, etc
- Challenge 5 Development of general water circulation models (including land use and underground water reclamation systems), computational simulation and predictions.
Practical implementation of "desalination and water reclamation systems" for improving living standards and water-sustainability
- Robust desalination and water reclamation systems, and resolution of social issues related to implementation
Robust separation membranes, modularization technologies, peripheral processing technologies, and systematization technologies.