Many ocean ships, used a method of desalination to get clean drinking water from the ocean water. The method of desalination that was used was distillation. To obtain the drinking water, the sailors would boil water and pipe the steam into a cool bottle to get fresh water from the original salt water.
The world's first commercial traditional desalination plant was built in Sleima, Malta. It was called Tigne.
The world's first land-based distillation plant was built in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles. It had a capacity of 60 m3/day. An elementary example of Distillation is the process by which water is boiled and the steam from the water is piped into a cool bottle or container. When the water is piped into a cool bottle or container, the water condenses and becomes fresh, drinkable water.
The first Multi Effect Distillation plant was built in 1930 in Saudi Arabia. Multi Effect Distillation is a form of desalination that is the low temperature thermal process of obtaining fresh water by recovering the vapour of boiling sea water.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates discover oil offshore. They use the money from the oil to build desalination plant because of the lack of water. The Saudi Arabian government spent more than a billion dollars on the desalination plants.
In 1952, the United States Congress passed “The Saline Water Act” to provide federal support for desalination.
The First Multi Stage Flash Distillatin Plant was built in Kuwait. The costs and energy usage was low, because the desalination plant re-used low pressure steam from the generator to provide energy for the desalting process. Multi Stage Flash Distillition is a process of desalination by which hot water is stored at a low pressure in a large chamber. The pressure causes the water to instantly change to steam. The steam is then piped to another location and there it condenses to drinking water.
One of the first seawater desalination demonstration plants in the United States was built at Freeport, Texas in 1961. It was built to demonstrate the desalination process of converting salt water to fresh water.
In the California town of Coalinga, the world's first commercial reverse osmosis plant was built. This plant produced pure water from brackish water, at up to 6,000 gallons daily. Reverse osmosis is a process to remove salt and other contaminants from salt/brackish water by running salt water through a membrane with thousands of microscopic pores. When the water flows into the membrane, the salt and other contaminants get caught in the pores, making the water that went through the pores clean.
The Rumaith, a boat, becomes the first seafaring desalination plant in the world. The Rumaith was launched from the United Arab Emirates. The desalination plant was built on a boat so fresh, drinkable water could be brought to towns located on the coast.
In Ashkelon, Israel, the first mega capacity desalination plant was built. Mega capacity mean it generates huge amounts of fresh water a day.
The current largest desalination plant in the world was built in 2009 in Hadera, Isreal.
Plans were made to create the first solor powered desalination plant by IBM and Saudi Arabian researchers. The plant will be built in Al Khafiji, Saudi Arabia in the near future.