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Make Freshwater From Salt Water Using Only Solar Energy

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A federally funded research effort to revolutionize water treatment has yielded an off-grid technology that uses energy from sunlight alone to turn salt water into fresh drinking water.

 

image/source: Rice University

The desalination system, which uses a combination of membrane distillation technology and light-harvesting nanophotonics, is the first major innovation from the Center for Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT).

A multi-institutional engineering research center based at Rice University.“Direct solar desalination could be a game changer for some of the estimated 1 billion people who lack access to clean drinking water,” said Rice scientist and water treatment expert Qilin Li, a corresponding author on the study.

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This off-grid technology is capable of providing sufficient clean water for family use in a compact footprint, and it can be scaled up to provide water for larger communities.The oldest method for making freshwater from salt water is distillation. Salt water is boiled, and the steam is captured and run through a condensing coil. Distillation has been used for centuries.