Frequently Asked Questions
How does the environmental impact of using EFD technology compare with other desalination technologies?
All existing utility-scale desalination technology results in the production of a byproduct made up of salt, minerals and other compounds which are discharged into the ocean as hyper-saline brine. Because brine contains twice the salt concentration of sea water and does not contain oxygen, discharging it into the ocean causes it to sink and spread along the ocean floor, where there is reduced amount of wave energy to mix it with sea water. A high concentration of brine on the seafloor can have an extremely negative impact on benthic ecosystems, including the incubation of fish eggs.
EFD Corp. technology provides a monumental solution to this environmental conundrum by providing a cost-effective way to separate fresh water from salt without producing a brine by-product. EFD Corp. technology separates salt from sea water and produces a crystalized salt that can be commercially shipped and sold worldwide. Currently, EFD Corp. technology is the only way to desalinate sea water on a utility scale without destroying the ocean environment through the production of brine.
What happens with the salt produced?
The worldwide demand for salt is expected to rise by 1.5 percent by year 2030, valued at $13.4 billion. China and the United States lead the world in salt production, combining to annually produce 40 percent of the world’s 305 million metric tons of salt. In 2013 alone, domestic production of salt in the United States increased by eight percent, with an estimated value of $1.6 billion.
The Asian and Pacific region is the fastest growing market for commercial salt, with salt consumption expected to rise in Asia by five percent by 2018. It is predicted that Chinese salt imports will grow rapidly because domestic salt production is not expected to keep up with the rise in demand.
EFD Corp. technology has enormous potential to contribute to this growing worldwide salt market. An EFD Corp. plant producing 120 million gallons per day of water would produce approximately 35 million pounds (17,760 tons) of salt per day. Therefore, a single EFD plant producing 120 million gallons of water per day has the potential to singlehandedly produce two percent of the global demand for salt.
Doesn’t distilled water lack essential minerals and taste bad?
The minerals which the human body needs that are in the water are insignificant when compared to those in food. Simply eating a varied diet would prevent an individual from developing a mineral deficiency. However, it is true that purely distilled water has an undesirable taste, which is remedied by post-production treatment adding calcium and magnesium back into the water.
How do the energy costs of using EFD technology compare with other desalination technologies?
Other desalination technologies such as reverse osmosis are tied to the use of electricity as their primary energy source. Because of the unique design of EFD Corp. technology, a utility-scale EFD Corp. desalination plant producing a minimum of 1,000,000 gallons per day is designed to run on natural gas rather than electricity. The cost of natural gas is approximately 7.4 times less expensive than electricity. An EFD Corp. desalination plant using natural gas can purchase it at a cost of $0.39 per BTU, dropping energy costs to only $2.56 to produce 1,000 gallons of drinking water, or $844.10 per acre-foot.
Why compress the steam?
Compressing the steam allows the system to capture and reuse the latent heat of vaporization. EFD Corp. systems reuse approximately 95 percent of the heat energy in the system, lowering the production costs and making the system more affordable and competitive.
Why use a plate-type heat exchanger instead of a shell and tube type?
Plate-type heat exchangers are smaller and easier to manufacture, integrate and maintain. They cost a fraction of what a shell and tube exchanger costs, making the plant more affordable.
Isn’t hot salt water very corrosive? Can the materials used in an EFD plant stand up to the hot brine?
Many industries have had to deal with more corrosive fluids and have developed a variety of resistant materials to handle them. EFD Corp. uses high quality stainless steel, titanium, plastics and ceramics for critical parts that come in contact with hot salt water that are designed to resist salt corrosion and withstand high temperatures.
What can be done with the salt byproduct from agricultural runoff and fracking water?
Agricultural runoff water has pesticides, fertilizers, natural minerals and organic matter that end up in the dry salt produced by EFD plants. Fracking operations have similar contaminants, only their water also contains hydrocarbons. At this point there is no known use or market for this toxic salt although some people are looking for ways to separate the non-toxic materials and find markets for them. In any event, as a solid the toxic salt is much safer and easier to dispose of in landfill or dry storage than brine.
How much does an EFD Corp. plant cost to build?
That depends on the production capacity of the plant and whether it is mobile or fixed. As a general rule of thumb, the cost of a fixed EFD plant will be roughly comparable to that of a similar sized RO plant. A mobile plant capable of producing roughly 30,000 gallons a day costs approximately $3M to construct. The Carlsbad RO plant currently under construction with a production capacity of 50 million gallons a day has a construction budget of approximately $570M.
Can a portable plant be built to provide water in emergencies?
Mobile plants with a 200,000 gallons a day capacity can be built to fit on truck trailers. These plants can be run on propane which can be supplied by tanker trucks.
Is anyone using the technology now?
The main components of EFD Corp. technology have been around for a long time. Vapor Compression is over 100 years old and is well understood. Spray Drying is used to make powdered milk and most dry drugs used around the world. The process for pressurizing water to keep it from boiling in a heat exchanger is used in the radiator of every gasoline and diesel vehicle on the road in the world today.
Since the main technologies in EFD Corp.’s patent have been around for a long time, what is unique about EFD Corp.’s approach?
Currently nobody is using these technologies in combination to extract salt from seawater. That is the genius of the EFD Corp. patent.
Does a plant have to use only EFD Corp. technology or can EFD Corp. technology be used to treat the brine by product of existing RO plants?
Adding EFD Corp. technology is a great way to clean up the discharge of concentrated brine from an RO plant. If the RO input is seawater, an EFD plant will produce 138 percent additional water as well as dry salt which can be sold. The resulting revenue of the combined processes will be triple that of the RO plant alone. The cost of adding EFD technology will be roughly the same as the cost of the original RO plant. Not only are the economics of adding EFD Corp. technology to an RO plant very attractive, but the elimination of the concentrated brine discharge removes a major obstacle to licensing and permitting of desalination plants.
Does a water authority or services company have to use EFD Corp. to build the plant?
EFD Corp. has the capacity to build some mobile systems, but all fixed systems and the majority of mobile systems will be built by others under license from EFD Corp. All systems using EFD Corp.’s patented technology will have to have a license from EFD corp.
What are EFD Corp.’s revenue projections?
EFD Corp. expects to receive a five percent license fee of the total delivered cost of an EFD technology-based plant, mobile or fixed. EFD Corp. also expects to charge plant operators five percent of the revenue derived from the sale of the water and salt. If the water and salt are not sold on an open market, EFD Corp. will compute a value based on the capacity of the plant. The annual revenue from licensees in California alone could be well over $100M within a few years.