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EgtesadOnline: Using nuclear reactors to run seawater desalination plants can be cost-effective in areas straddling the southern coasts of Iran, as they meet most of their potable water demand from nearby provinces, an energy analyst said.

“The cost of treating seawater using fossil fuels is 40 cents for each cubic meter of water, while it stands at five cents in nuclear desalination plants,” Misaq Molaei was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency on Tuesday.  

According to Molaei, the first and second phases of the desalination unit of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in the southern province have the capacity to desalinate 5,000 and 10,000 cubic meters of saline water per day.

The Bushehr plant is situated 17 km southeast of the city of Bushehr, according to Financial Tribune.

Iran has signed a $10 billion deal with Russia to build two new nuclear power plants in Bushehr.

The official stressed that the desalination capacity, which meets 20% of Bushehr city’s water demand, can be boosted further. 

“In addition to the high cost of processing seawater by fossil-fueled desalination plants, it damages the environment more than the nuclear plants, the output of which is more desirable both in terms of quality and quantity,” he said.

Molaei noted that the water output of nuclear desalination plants is costlier compared with that of groundwater sources controlled by dams, but the total cost can be reduced by decreasing investment costs.

Small- and medium-sized nuclear reactors are suitable for desalination, often with cogeneration of electricity using low-pressure steam from the turbine and hot seawater fed from the cooling system. Several countries have started to use nuclear desalination, including India, Japan and Kazakhstan. The latter operated a 750-MW facility for over a quarter century, generating not only desalinated water, but processing heat and electricity as well.

Nuclear energy-powered water desalination is a well-understood technology.

More recently, Argentina, China and South Korea have developed small nuclear reactor designs to generate both electricity and freshwater.

Ali Asghar Qane’, the deputy head of National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company, told IRNA last year that some 55 desalination facilities, with a capacity of producing 129,000 cubic meters of water per day, supply water for consumption or irrigation to the northern and southern coastal regions of Iran.

According to Qane’, the units, completed at a cost of $170 million, have been up and running since 2016.


Iran Nuclear Reactors water demand Nuclear Desalination seawater desalination