China is researching desalination of sea ice

Chinese scientists believe that ice in the Bohai and Yellow seas could become an important alternative freshwater source, according to the Chinese Xinhua news agency.

The two seas have been hit by the worst ice in 30 years lasting from early January this year to the middle of March. However, Chen Weibin, head of China’s Marine Environmental Dynamics Laboratory, believes the country’s desalination technology can convert the ice to drinking water.

“The salinity of desalinated sea ice can reach 150 mg/L, when 5 tonnes/hour of sea ice is treated through our lab equipment. The result is on a par with salt levels in many of China’s rivers,” said Chen, who is also a researcher on the sea-ice desalination program based in Dalian City, Liaoning province.

“The salinity of the sea water in the Bohai Bay is 3,200 mg/L,” said Gu Wei, a professor with Beijing Normal University, who is involved in the research. “However, when the water is frozen, the rate drops to 600-800 mg/L. Our equipment can further reduce the salinity.”

Chen said the program has attracted a group of scientists from central government as well as Beijing Normal and Tianjin universities.