In the face of rising water demands and dwindling freshwater supplies, alternative water sources are needed. Desalination of water has become a key to helping meet increasing water needs, especially in water-stressed countries where water obtained by desalination far exceeds supplies from the freshwater sources. Recent technological advancements have enabled desalination to become more efficient and cost-competitive on a global scale. This has become possible due to the improvement in the materials used in membrane-based desalination, incorporation of energy-recovery devices to reduce electricity demands, and combining different desalination methods into hybrid designs.
The resulting waste product, called water-treatment residuals (WTR), contains precipitated Al and Fe oxyhydroxides, resulting in a strong affinity for anionic species. Recent research has focused on using WTR as cost-effective materials to reduce soluble phosphorus (P) in soils, runoff, and land-applied organic wastes (manures and biosolids). Studies show P adsorption by WTR to be fast and nearly irreversible, suggesting long-term stable immobilization of WTR-bound P. Because excessive WTR application can induce P deficiency in crops, effective application rates and methods remain an area of intense research.