Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nuclear desalination for Haiti?

The grisly injuries, food scarcity and lack of shelter are agony enough for Haitians in the wake of last week's devastating earthquake. But even those travails may not be as dire as the potentially deadly dehydration that millions of quake victims are suffering, especially in the capital, Port-au-Prince. With the city's waterworks incapacitated, and the relief supply effort only now getting sufficiently energized, ramping up water delivery could mean the difference between alleviating the misery and exacerbating it.

The answer may lie in the Caribbean water that the two million residents of Port-au-Prince see every day but can't drink. Sitting off the coast of Haiti, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson can make some 400,000 gallons of its own fresh water every day, and much of it will soon be going ashore. The nuclear-powered vessel, which had been heading to its new home port in San Diego when it was diverted to Haiti hours after the quake, has massive desalination capacity - purifying the same ocean saltwater it traverses - and the Vinson has a daily excess of 200,000 gallons "that we can give away," says Cmdr. William McKinley, who oversees the desalination process.



Jason Ribeiro said...

The USS Carl Vinson is helping to save many lives through the use of nuclear energy. Not only are is this a mobile desalination platform but it's also a portable airport of course. The airport at Port-au-Prince is only 1 runway, very inadequate even without an emergency.

This gives rise to the idea that floating nuclear power plants could provide electricity and desalination for island nations on a permanent basis. The ship just plugs into the infrastructure and no further site work needs to be done. After a few years when it needs refueling, a replacement ship could come take its place and the previous ship could make its way back to be serviced.

Marcel F. Williams said...

This is why I believe that small Russian floating nuclear reactors are going to be a game changer for third world countries as far as the production of electricity, desalinated water, and maybe even hydrogen for ammonia and synfuel production.

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