Robert Silver

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Robert Simpson Silver CBE FRSE (1913-1997) was a Scottish physicist and mechanical engineer, awarded the Unesco Prize for Science in 1968 for his discovery of a process for the demineralisation of sea water. Prior to his work there had been no commercially viable desalination process that involved continuous flow; plants had to be stopped and emptied of accumulated salt from time to time, such as when a passenger liner using desalination was in port. Silver performed a thermodynamic analysis showing that reverse osmosis and multistage flash were the optimal processes. As reverse osmosis technology was inadequate in the mid-20th century he designed multistage flash equipment, of which the first large-scale installation was in Kuwait.

Silver was also a poet and playwright who had work performed at the Edinburgh Festival.