This February the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the leading research institutions in the World, proposed in its Technology Review, the 10breakthrough technologies for 2015 . Among its wagers, one it was, at least, curious and, in particular, hopeful: the megascale desalinization. And it was hopeful precisely due to its adjective: megascale.
Megascale is for me a synonym of egalitarianism or, at least, of an extent distribution, which might act as its little brother. The reason for its inclusion in the MIT list was not its pioneering technique or revolutionary advanced engines, since though ingenious and efficient the strongest novelty is the inversion of the membranes disposition from horizontal to vertical. The breakthrough trait was its cost-recovery efficiency. This is the core improvement which can be claimed. There is no point in having the most sophisticate technology if it cannot be applied extensively. The desalinization plant, Sorek , already finished in 2013 and which will be familiar for many of you, has now reached its objective: being useful to the population, working at its ambitious expected capacity of more than 600,000 m3 per day; but doing it at a reasonable price. The plant has incorporated those technical advances required to become cost-affordable for the Israeli society, which is planning to supply the 50 percent of its national water needs with desalinized water. The fact that one of the main goals for a private company is the reduction of prices to extend the resource production in a fairer way is shocking at first sight and suspiciously idyllic at the second one. But of course patents are always present. And this leads me to an additional point.
There is always a dichotomy in the approaches to finance the strategic services of a country. Traditionally was believed that the most efficient tactic was the private sector way, since the own search for rewarding is expected to bring parallel economic and social profits. The public sector, by contrary, is normally -and unfortunately- linked to capital losses and low efficiency, which, for continuing with the same logic, it would be due to the fact there is no intention for other benefits than those covering the nation needs. Wrong! This needs to be changed! The states need to be the biggest monopolies in the strategic goods; they need to follow the private sector position and look for maximizing the profits under any conditions. Why? Because the dividends would go directly to the whole population (or at least it is where they should go). The private company's patrols are shifting their positions in the chess board, aiming to create better technologies in order to achieve better social conditions. We have to expect that it must have advantages. It is time for the states to reproduce these strategies in the key sectors. The states need to invest in research and technology for the critical subjects. With the threat of scarcity, increasing demands, pollution, emerging contaminants, overexploitation, prices pressures, extortion, and many more menaces water is one of the most critical ones, if not the most. It is time to place the adjective megascale in all the issues linked to the global water management.
We need megascale view, megascale goals, megascale investigations, innovations and technology transfer, megascale protection and megascale ideas and ideals. Maybe then a -positively understood- egalitarianism can be achieved also at a megascale.
Some more info on Sorek plant and its SWRO technology: