Documentaries are pretty awesome for the wealth of information they provide and for getting people thinking. One documentary that I was watching recently and found interesting was about potential life on other planets; what would be required to support that life and what it would take for a planet to be inhabitable by humans? The key thing I took away from the documentary was the importance of water. We’re all familiar with it, as it is in our everyday lives. It’s shaped our planet and continues to do so. It has brought us around the world and continues to be a key mode of transportation. We use it for recreation in water parks, lakes, trips to the beach, rafting, etc. Water powers homes through damns and tides. A key substance in our body, it’s in the food we consume. It’s a universal solvent able to dissolve and transport material throughout living organisms. There is no doubt that water is essential for life in multiple ways.
In the documentary, researchers scoured the earth for the harshest environments to see if life could be sustained there and what was required. Water was required in all of these harsh environments for life to exist. H2O is an abundant compound in the universe but for life to thrive it needs to be in its liquid form. In the documentary, astronomers were looking for planets similar to ours which meant it had to orbit a star so that its distance from the star would allow liquid water to exist. The planet couldn’t be too close or too far such that water would exist primarily as other states other than liquid. Without surprise, due to the size of our galaxy and the universe, there are definitely planets out there with similar conditions to ours. With that being said, would it be a surprise to everyone that life could exist on those planets as well? The recipe of life, god, etc. is a whole other topic that I don’t want to get into but one definitely has to wonder about other worlds. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you believe there could be hostile aliens, these planets are light years away and I don’t think it would be somewhere we could explore in our lifetime. Again space travel, wormholes and all that jazz is another topic that is beyond my understanding so I won’t even think to dab into it here.
What I do know is that we’re here and we have an amazing planet with the right conditions for life. We have an abundant supply of water which the world unfortunately abuses at times. With that being said, there are regulations in our province that protect this very precious fluid by forcing oil and gas producers to recycle water usage and use non fresh water sources. Some may see the regulations as a hassle and reason for the high costs of facilities but I believe they are essential. The regulatory bodies that have imposed these rules and enforce them are doing the right things to protect our fresh water. I’m fortunate to work at Scovan where we deal with water on many of our projects. For example, our continued work on SAGD facilities where we recycle this precious fluid for the recovery of oil, an essential fluid for our modern day society. I won’t dive into details on the process but you can follow up with my bro (literally bro) on his articles where he describes the use of evaporator technology. It’s our responsibility to innovate and adapt to continue to provide society with what it needs without heavily affecting valuable resources. New technology such as the HIP VAP steam generator can reduce the infrastructure and cost required to build a SAGD facility. The addition of solvent can reduce the water demand and recycling required. Or we could look at removing water out of the equation entirely through the use of radio frequency technology.
The next time you open the tap, acknowledge the importance of this fluid. Having clean water readily available is a luxury we have that others around the world may not. It’s our duty to conserve this resource, through innovation, for the future generations and not to abuse it.
Written by: William Wong, P.Eng.