A Green Approach to Solar Distillation

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The World Economic Forum reports that the water crisis is the 4th greatest global risk in terms of impact to society. More people have local access to water of uncertain purity than predictable quality so there is a need to detoxify and purify local supplies.

We address a solution in economically appropriate water purification technologies, especially for rural areas.

Our design will purify water and offer a turnkey system to water resource managers in remote locations in a cost effective manner.

Specifically, we intend to build a self-contained standalone solar-thermal water purification system prototype, customized to meet local specifications, that will sanitize water to a high drinkable standard. It will leverage prior art from our Create The Future team. We have performed a feasibility study from our concentrated solar water evaporator to be able to estimate production targets and we have a proven track record of determining throughput efficiencies. The first stage of the solar distillation is used and well-understood in many solar still technologies. Prolonged exposure to (75+ degree C) heat kills most organic pathogens. Our solution will operate in this temperature range for most of the day. Even if you only perform a single stage process it is the best first 80% process available. Subsequent redistillations will incrementally improve your condensate until the 5th iteration (literally the quintessence) at which point there will be diminishing returns.

The second stage uses more speculative techs. After we move the water out of the distillation chamber and clear the gravity feed, it will undergo a series of chelation processes to remove inorganics. We have analyzed a considerable amount of information from the Flint Michigan water studies and want to move some of those processes to low power techniques.

The first stage of the solar purification system has a base that holds water and a transparent cone to create a sealed heat chamber. We see this as an 80/20 rule yield ; we will be able to get 80 % of the value of the project in the first 20 % of the process and this will be the 80 percent with the most cost-benefit (first stage purification). At that point we will be able to simultaneously investigate additional remediation measures that require more electricity. Stage 2 uses reverse osmosis, simple UV concentration for decontamination, and metal chelation processes to coax out even more purification. But the water will be drinkable through prolonged exposure to sunlight if no additional stages are affordable.

The team members have built man-portable kits for this exact need, monitoring the best practices throughout the process.


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  • Name:
    Kurt Keville
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Ed Rohmer
    Sohan Mikkilineni
  • Patent status: