Already, some 700 million people worldwide suffer from water scarcity, but that number is expected to swell to 1.8 billion in just 10 years.
Against this grim backdrop, there is some good news. In short, desalination is ripe for technological improvement. A combination of sensor-driven optimization and automation, plus new types of membranes, could eventually allow for desalination plants that are half the size and use commensurately less energy. Among other benefits, small, mobile desalination units could be used in agricultural regions hundreds of miles away from the ocean, where demand for water is great and growing.