How to Irrigate the Sahara

An amibitious project to pipe salt water from the Red Sea into the arid coastal city of Aqaba, Jordan, could turn the region into an oasis through the process of desalination.

A 50-acre demonstration facility, which will combine two technologies—seawater greenhouses and concentrated solar power—to grow crops, produce carbon neutral energy and desalinate seawater, has received approval from the government of Jordan and could be operational by 2012, with full-scale commercial use going online in 2015. A structure, called a seawater greenhouse, will capitalize on the abundance of sun in Jordan and use it to evaporate seawater and condense it into fresh water. While this happens, a naturally cool and humid environment will be created—perfect for growing crops.

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