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Are there any plant architectures or permaculture schemes which can filter seawater and create fresh water?

I imagine a saline pond or bore, flowing down through a series of ponds to a lower freshwater pond. Which plants would be best suited for this type of application?

I'd love some links or further information, but "desalination plants" brings up the wrong results on Google.

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This isn't exactly what you are looking for, but I remember seeing not too long ago an article on a concept design for a greenhouse that used mangrove plants to desalinate water. The mangroves took up brackish water, then transpired (fresh) water vapor. The water vapor was collected off sides of the greenhouse.

I know mangroves have also been planted in coastal areas which have seen desertification, to help improve the environment. I think you'd find some useful info by searching for mangroves and desalination.

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  • I sure did, thanks, this link is a good start: mangrove.nus.edu.sg/guidebooks/text/1042.htm. It looks as though some mangroves will secrete the salt on their leaves and bark, which later fall off - a good place to start.
    – Ben
    Jul 26 '13 at 0:03
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    Good luck with your research, and let us know what you find out. I don't live in an area with saltwater, but find the idea fascinating!
    – michelle
    Jul 27 '13 at 2:04
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Did you this article on farming with seawater on CNN recently? http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/17/world/meast/qatar-sahara-forest-project/index.html?iid=article_sidebar

They mention another plant that can be used to desalinate water, Limonium axillare. I think you might find the entire project interesting.

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I'm also not aware of any plants or other natural processes other than evaporation that can desalinate water.

There is another green house that uses seawater. It pumps in salt water, uses solar energy to evaporate it and collects the condensate. The condensers are cooled by seawater as well. Some of the humid air escapes the greenhouse through the ventilation and according to the wikipedia entry it can help support the growth of plants in the surrounding area.

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