Desalination the Energy Efficient Way

Desalination is the process of removing salt from sea water to get clean drinking water. The problem with the process is that it requires a lot of energy which is why this process is mainly used in oil rich places like the Middle East.

A new system created by researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia could change that, as it uses solar power to purify water.

The system uses conventional solar panels, with a twist. In their testing the team realized that the PV panels generate a lot of heat.

The team decided to use that heat by building a stack of water channels, separated by porous hydrophobic membranes and heat conduction layers. These layers were attached to the bottom of the PV panels. Heat from the panels would vaporize seawater in the top channel, cross through the porous membrane, and then finally condense as fresh water in the third channel. This process is able to generate 1.64 liters/hr (0.433 gallons/hr) of water per square meter of solar panel surface.

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