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Seawater Chemistry

Seawater contains ions that affect its properties, such as density.

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Credit: Alisha Vargas
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31169339@N07/3259090279
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

This brine pool is formed by salt that seeped through the seafloor. The oceans are full of water, but they are also full of salt. Can seawater be made drinkable?

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Many arid nations do not have enough freshwater for their people. Since 70% of the planet is covered by oceans, many nations want to make seawater drinkable. The reverse osmosis method takes salts from the seawater, but creates brine. The brine is hard to dispose of safely. So scientists are working on methods for creating fresh water from seawater that is not harmful to the environment. If a new method also creates a useable commodity, it’s a win-win!

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With the links below, learn more about mining minerals from seawater. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What are some of the problems with using desalination to get freshwater from seawater?
  2. How can bacteria be helpful in creating freshwater from seawater?
  3. What happens to the minerals taken from the seawater by the bacteria?
  4. Why is this situation a win-win?
  5. What should be done to supply fresh water to arid regions besides desalination?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Alisha Vargas; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31169339@N07/3259090279; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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