Seawater Greenhouses

Prototype for a seawater greenhouse in Qatar

An innovative method has arrived that accomplishes desalination of seawater. Seawater greenhouses moderate reliance on food importation by supporting local population growth upon self-generation of environmentally sustainable freshwater production. This development has unraveled a new frontier of sustainable technologic integration.

SG2Rather than rely on fossil fuels, seawater greenhouses utilize abundant sunlight and seawater.  Incorporated seawater continuously moistens corrugated cardboard evaporators within the walls of the greenhouse where it is evaporated by warm penetrating desert air.  Evaporation then cools and humidifies internal greenhouse air, thereby facilitating ideal conditions for freshwater production via condensation.  As the air passes through the greenhouse it crosses an additional network of pipes containing a continuous flow of low temperature seawater.  Additional condensation accumulates as these pipes are heated by the sun and crossed with the internally humidified air, creating dew that ultimately collects to form an aggregate supply of freshwater.  Furthermore, circumferential expansion of external vegetation is achieved by generation of atmospheric conditions induced by expended humid greenhouse air.  This cycle is perpetuated as the augmenting agriculture is fed by an evermore-suitable atmosphere.  The results are remarkable; a desert manipulated into an expanding vegetated ecosystem.

SG4Transpiration is the process of water movement through a plant’s stomatal opening and is regulated by sunlight, temperature, humidity, wind and water.  With the exception of specifically adapted vegetation, such as cactus, desert conditions require inhospitable transpiration rates for typical vegetation.  Seawater greenhouses mitigate irrigation requirements and enable increased cultivation of high quality vegetation by down regulating rates of transpiration.  Thus a natural imitation of the hydrological cycle produces vegetation in low water requirement environments while creating a surplus of physical water.

Rather than threatening neighboring biodiversity through discharge of highly salinized brine, seawater greenhouses completely extract purely distilled fresh water from salt.  Salt remaining from unabridged desalination is utilized in a myriad of ways, ranging from food preservation to de-icing roads.  Seawater greenhouses require no exploitation of expensive fossil fuels, chemicals or pesticides while governing a cost effective and environmentally sustainable solution to fresh water production.

SG3Additionally, mirrors can be utilized to channel intense desert sunlight on to water pipes and boilers.  This concentrated solar power creates steam that is utilized to power turbines and generate an alternative form of electricity.  Innumerable concepts can be integrated into this system such as solar electricity, biofuel production, job creation, etc.

Seawater greenhouses connect humans with their environments in a pioneering way.  Population expansion is supported within a self-sufficient system while concurrently depreciating obligatory food importation.  No silver bullet exists; however, seawater greenhouses could be a game changer in producing self-sufficient fresh water for future generations.  This solution contains vast integration potential with 80 percent of the world’s population residing within 60 miles of seawater, of which is a relatively unlimited source.  In the midst of resource abundance such as seawater and sunlight, the most valuable resource available is human knowledge- comprehension of how humans are connected to their ecosystems and how available abundant resources can be manipulated to meet expanding population needs.  If innovation can create an oasis in the desert, then it can create many more revolutionary solutions as well.


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