Advantages of a Clear-Span Tension Fabric Building for Desalination

    Legacy tension fabric buildings for mining and desalination
    October 25, 2023 | Tension Fabric Structures, ExxoTec, Building Design

    Desalination plants are complex, high-volume operations involving pumping stations, electrical equipment, and, sometimes, miles of pipes that house the filtration systems. They are expensive to construct, typically running well into the millions (or billions) of dollars. Whether you’re a municipality or an industrial operation, a clear-span tension fabric building can help protect your infrastructure investment.

    Desalination is increasingly being used by municipalities around the world to provide fresh drinking water to citizens as well as in industrial settings to provide clean water for processing and to remove (and sometimes recover) salts and other chemicals from water used in processing. In particular, desalination is widely prevalent within the mining sector worldwide.  


    The Chile Story

    Chile is the world’s largest copper source. It has also become the world leader in industrial use of desalination. Copper mining is extremely water-intensive, but the northern mining region (and much of central Chile) is now in its 14th consecutive year of severe drought.

    As of February 2023, there are 24 desalination plants operating in Chile. Of the combined 8,000-liter-per-second output, 75% is used in copper mining. Fifteen more plants are planned or under construction, with total output expected to reach 40,000 liters per second by 2029. And that’s just one country. The increasing need for buildings suitable for desalination plant operation is obvious.


    With Clear-Span Construction, You Can Build to Scale

    Because desalination plants typically have an enormous footprint, clear-span buildings make the most practical sense. Clear-span construction allows you to cover and use every square foot of your building, configured as needed, while unencumbered by interior support columns. But not all structures are the same.

    The ideal solution is a clear-span tension fabric building with a solid steel frame because it offers greater design flexibility and durability in harsh environments—that is, a Legacy ExxoTec™ building. Legacy tension fabric buildings can give you a free span of more than 300 feet. Some of our favorite mining projects illustrate how these structures are serving customers across diverse mining environments. 


    The Legacy Difference

    Multiple factors combine to make a Legacy tension fabric building uniquely different. Chief among them for desalination plants include:

    • The frame is constructed of solid steel I-beams, so it is not only sturdy, but it also reduces the possibility of internal corrosion common to tubular framing.
    • Straight walls and seamless installation of fabric cladding create a full enclosure. In high-humidity coastal environments, this helps protect the desalination plant components within from rust, corrosion, and weather damage.
    • Legacy’s steel framing members are also protected against corrosion, coated with our proprietary EpoxxiShield™ as part of the manufacturing process. EpoxxiShield™ is much more effective than hot-dip galvanizing (HDG)—a fact that is especially important in copper mining, where chemicals can react with the zinc in HDG to actually encourage corrosion.
    • Legacy ExxoTec™ tension fabric is noncorrosive, reducing potential problems resulting from contact with mining concentrates or the marine environment. It has exceptional tensile strength. It is thermally nonconductive, which helps naturally regulate interior temperatures, and Legacy’s white ExxoTec™ fabric provides 12% translucency which provides sufficient natural light for daytime work. It is installed in sections, which simplifies on-site replacement should an area become damaged.
    • Passive ventilation helps provide adequate airflow for natural cooling.

    Service as Exceptional as Our Buildings

    At Legacy Building Solutions, we’re no strangers to the rigors of mining environments, having partnered with customers around the world in many different mining settings. We know that quality, custom buildings are crucial, but so is speed.

    As a single-source building manufacturer, we streamline the entire process, from custom design through installation. A dedicated project consultant serves as your single point of contact throughout. And our Legacy crews, with their knowledge of our systems and experience, work efficiently and safely to install our buildings on-site. It usually takes weeks, not months, to complete our mining buildings. 


    Versatile Enough to Cover Your Entire Mining Operation

    The features that make Legacy tension fabric buildings your ideal clear-span choice for desalination plants also make our buildings equally valuable for other aspects of your operation, on the coast and at the mine. Our team is always ready to answer questions and help you make the best choices.


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