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Using desalination to create desert cities from salt

salt-buildings

This is thinking way outside the box. Use solar-powered desalination to create fresh water to grow crops in deserts and use the leftover salt mixed with epoxy to create buildings. Thus, no brine is pumped back into the ocean and food could be produced in deserts. I’m sure the technical challenges here are daunting and I really hope this happens.

Geboers aims to create a closed-loop system that would produce zero waste. Unlike traditional desalination technology, where concentrated brine is often pumped back into the sea in concentrations that are unhealthy to marine ecosystems, the extracted salt could be reused as a sustainable building material. Because it has great compressive strength, but not so much tension, it would be most ideally used in domes and arches, which are common in vernacular desert architecture.

Salt, of course, does not react well when exposed to moisture, so Geboers seals the starchy salt bricks with an epoxy. Since this is a plastic-based material, the architect is currently researching bio-based plastics as a more ecological alternative. Water distilled as a byproduct of the solar desalination process would then be used to grow food in greenhouses – similar to the Sahara Forest Project that is successfully cultivating crops in Qatar.

Building With Seawater

Sahara Forest Project

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