Fresh water is likely something you take for granted. Yet, in some areas, it is in short supply. Remote, and disaster struck areas often struggle to provide enough clean, fresh water for their residents.
Yet now, there is a new process by which fresh water can be attained. The Water Innovation and Research Centre in partnership with Indonesia’s Bogor Agricultural University and the University of Johannesburg, has developed a prototype desalination unit that effectively pumps salt out of seawater, making it drinkable. Desalination has, for decades, been an essential process to provide fresh water where it is scarce.
The problem, however, is that desalination has been energy-intensive process carried out in large industrial plants. Now, thanks to solar energy, the process can be energy efficient, low maintenance, and low cost. In the words of Frank Marken from the Department of Chemistry, “There are times when it would be enormously beneficial to install small, solar-powered desalination units to service a small number of households. Large industrial water plants are essential to 21st Century living, but they are of no help when you’re living in a remote location where drinking water is scarce, or where there is a coastal catastrophe that wipes out the fresh water supply.”
This whole new process for removing salt from water, Markenhopes, could develop a working mobile desalination unit within five years. While currently they are working to find a better membrane for the unit which could remove more salt, and be longer lasting, the ability to offer remote populations fresh water, with no energy required is exciting. And it is yet another wonderful way solar energy can make our lives better.
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