November 17, 2011 / 2:27 PM / 7 years ago

Israeli firm unveils eco-friendly desalination unit

HADERA, Israel (Reuters) - Israel’s IDE Technologies has unveiled a transportable desalination system that uses traditional reverse osmosis technology but without the need for chemicals, allowing cheaper and more eco-friendly production of drinking water.

The unit, the first of its kind, is housed in a standard, 12-meter-long skid-mounted container and can produce between 500 and 10,000 cubic meters of water per day, depending on the water type, the company said.

That would be enough for a hotel or small village in remote areas or disaster sites that lost water supplies, said Fredi Lokiec, IDE’s executive vice president for special projects.

“We’re bringing to the industry a facility that doesn’t use any type of chemicals. Completely green and environmentally friendly,” he said.

Israel is two-thirds arid and to deal with its own shortages has become a world leader in water technologies, pioneering new methods of drip irrigation, water recycling and desalination.

Reverse osmosis is a common desalination method where sea water is passed through membranes under high pressure. Usually chemicals are needed to clean the pre-treated water as well as the membranes themselves. Lokiec said IDE developed environmentally friendly biofilters that can do the job instead.

“It’s very economical and is without the troubles of handling chemicals and discharging them back into the environment,” he said.

IDE is co-owned by two of the country’s biggest companies, Israel Chemicals and Delek Group, and last year opened the world’s largest desalination plant to use reverse osmosis in the coastal city of Hadera.

The new portable unit, called Progreen, was shown for the first time to international delegations visiting Israel for its annual water technology convention WATEC.

IDE would not disclose what each unit costs, but said it was in line with market standards.

The company, together with Hutchison Water, a unit of Hong Kong group Hutchison Whampoa, is now constructing in Israel an even larger plant than the Hadera facility, which will produce 150 million cubic metres of water each year at a cost of around 2.01 shekels (57 cents) per cubic meter.

Once it is completed, over 50 percent of household water use in Israel will come from desalinated sea water.

Editing by Will Waterman

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