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Atlantic icebergs to quench the world’s thirst

One of the most defining moments of the twentieth century was borne of an iceberg. It is under entirely different circumstances that they are shaping this century.

Inspired by French engineer Georges Mougin, Dassault Systemes have developed a revolutionary idea; the towing of icebergs for fresh water - to quench the world’s thirst.

The sinking of RMS Titanic after slamming into an iceberg in the Atlantic in 1912 killed over 1500 people.

Mr Mougin’s, and Dassault Systemes’, scientific breakthrough, 40 years in the making, has the potential to save many more than that.

Almost a billion people across the world are still without access to drinking water, while more than 2.5 billion have no water purification systems.

The IceDream project aims to allay this problem.

Recently proven to be technically feasible, the project wants to exploit naturally drifting icebergs, to tow them to the benefit of humankind.

IceDream would capture giant tabular icebergs - an iceberg with a flat, table-like top to you and I - and insulate it from melting across the belligerent Atlantic Ocean with a protective textile skirt.

The idea of generating drinking water from icebergs was unheard of prior to Mougin’s brainwave forty years ago.

Since then, there has been considerable technical progress and knowledge of oceans and icebergs has greatly improved.

Mougin, 88, was hired by prince Mohammad al-Faisal, a nephew of the Saudi king, in the 1970’s in an audacious bid to harness icebergs for water in arid Arabia. The project fell apart due to to cost issues.

Then Mougin partnered with Dassault, who brought their considerable expertise in 3-D imaging and engineering to the table.

Drinking water will be procured by the natural melting of the iceberg - which will be wrapped in a watertight bag - by the surrounding sea water.

Water purity of the ice is guaranteed, since the iceberg, once part of a glacier, was formed by thousands of years’ accumulation of compacted snow.

Seven million tonnes of ice - or approximately 45 average sized icebergs - could yield a years’ water consumption for 35,000 people.

Practical destinations for the towing of the icebergs include Morocco, Namibia, Western and South Australia, Chile, Peru and California in the United States, due to the prevailing winds and currents and earth rotation.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of icebergs are produced by breaking off glaciers in Canada and Greenland.

Icebergs often present a hazard to the North Atlantic shipping lanes (as Edward J. Smith would testify). The largest iceberg ever recorded was larger than Belgium.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by BeOn .

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