World Economic News
Russia, Egypt Plan Nuclear Desalination Project
According to the United Nations, water pollution, poor sanitation, and water shortages will kill more than 12 million people this year. It is estimated that 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe water, and double that number have no access to proper sanitation.
During his trip to Egypt last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed a cooperative agreement between the two nations to build nuclear power plants to desalinate seawater. "The parties will discuss the technical details of the document, aimed at increasing bilateral cooperation in nuclear energy," Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed during the trip. Russia is also discussing a similar project with Libya.
The only industrial-scale nuclear reactor for both power and desalination was built in 1973 in Kazakhstan, producing 520MW of electricity, and 80,000 cubic meters per day of potable water. Russia has been pioneering the effort, as well, to produce small floating nuclear reactors, based on their nuclear Navy experience, also for deployment in developing countries.
Other efforts to couple nuclear plants with desalination are underway internationally. Japan has been operating 10 pilot desalination plants using nuclear power, and China is building a dual-use plant at 200 ME electric. An Indian nuclear expert, Abdul Kalam, speaking recently at a conference in India, is urging his government to target 20,000 MW of additional nuclear capacity, and to place desalination plants next to them, to use the waste heat from electricity production.
All of these efforts are based on using today's generation of water-cooled reactors. Efficiency will be greatly increased with the development of high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor systems, where the heat is high enough to move towards the thermal cracking of water directly, without using current electricity-intensive desalination techniques.
High-Speed Rail Project Planned for Mexico City to Guadalajara Route
The Mexican government is moving toward development of a high-speed-rail project connecting Mexico City and Guadalajara. The Ministry of Communications and Transport has appointed France-based SYSTRA, international consulting engineers for rail and urban transport, to help draw up tender agreement terms for the project. The tender is due to be launched in the middle of this year. Slated to run at speeds of 186 mph, the rail operation will cut travel time to two hours and serve some 28 million passengers. The project also will link up with the cities of Queretaro and Irapuato.