Sunday, 30 September 2018

Dubai Iceberg

The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is the most ambitious urban planning project in history. It is a kind of Milton Keynes writ large. Apparently a quarter of all the building cranes in the world can be found in Dubai and it has even created artificial islands in the shapes of palm trees and maps of the world. It's a showcase of Middle Eastern oil-soaked opulence. It is home to the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, 2,717 feet tall, and also many others that are enormous, modern, elegant and unusual shapes. However, like much of the Middle East, Dubai has a hot dry desert climate. There is no surface fresh water. Therefore Dubai's water supply has to come from the sea. The UAE has twelve desalination facilities that supply all the country's drinking water, as well as water for industry, irrigation and hygiene. This is expensive and causes many environmental problems, see background links below. However a company in the UAE has come up with an incredible plan. The National Advisor Bureau Ltd wants to tow an iceberg from the Southern Ocean to the Persian Gulf which will be melted down for water. Unlike the Arctic, most Antarctic icebergs are made of fresh water instead of frozen seawater. They will send some ships to Antarctic waters, take an iceberg and move it to the UAE. This can be one up to seven thousand feet across and weighing up to one hundred million tons. This contains enough water to supply all of the needs of Dubai for five years. There are some major problems with this proposal. Firstly, as soon as the iceberg leaves the cold South Polar Region and enters the balmy waters of the Gulf, it will melt. The company will be in a race against time to tug the iceberg the seven thousand miles to its destination before it vanishes like an ice cube in a hot bath. The founder estimates that a maximum of thirty percent of the ice could melt during the journey and that will still make it worthwhile. But once you get the iceberg to Dubai where will you store it? It will need to be kept in a chilled location before it is mined for drinking water. If it is really seven thousand feet long you'd need a huge refrigerated pen. Would running that be any less expensive and energy consuming than simply sticking to the desalination plants? If the water operation is successful, the company even suggested bringing more and more icebergs to Dubai in order to create a microclimate where it will rain. I'm not sure that would work, or even be desirable if it did. It might have unintended side effects on the local wildlife. Also it would need to be a regular supply of icebergs. Could the company really manage that? This sounds to me like a publicity stunt that will never actually happen. What's more, for reasons I have addressed many times before, for example see the background links below, the means exists to desalinate seawater in plants powered by free energy, making their capacity virtually limitless. It simply needs to be declassified.  

9 comments:

jezzyby47 said...

Am i missing something? Surely someone would sell them some bottled water if they want clean water.

Dominik Filipiuk said...

I have 0 problems with towing icebergs I think that's a badass way to spend your time good job Dubai...

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Jezzy. I'm sure they do, but this cannot replace the mains supply. You need it for toilet flushing and bathing too.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Dominik. If somebody wants to, sure. I just think it's time-consuming and superfluous for the reasons i state in the article.

Bernie said...

Many thanks for putting a picture of an 'iceberg' as a prelude to your blog for I wouldn't have had a clue what you were talking about otherwise.

When's the new book coming out?

Bernie

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

Bernie... or Beezart. Do you think I can't see through you? I can spot you every time!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha sorry Ben but that comment from Bernie made me laugh. Cheers mate. Paul.

Ben Emlyn-Jones said...

No problem, Anon. If you get amusement from the trolls it rubs their faces in it even more.

Lucy said...

Trolls ruin things for the rest of us who try to understand these things better. Why don't people, trolls, have more respect?

Lucy