Scientists Turn Salt Water Into Drinking Water Using Solar Power

Posted by on April 29, 2015 in Eco-Friendly, Sci-Tech, Technology with 0 Comments

Article Source: Science Alert

solar-powered-desalination-compressedBy inexpensively turning salt water into drinking water using sustainable solar power, a team from MIT in the US has not only come up with a portable desalination system for use anywhere in the world that needs it, but it’s just won the 2015 Desal Prize – a competition run by USAID to encourage better solutions to water shortages in developing countries.


In order to win the $140,000 prize, entries had to demonstrate how their invention not only works well, but is cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and energy efficient. And the MIT researchers teamed up with US-based manufacturing company, Jain Irrigation Systems, to do just that.

The team’s invention works by using solar panels to charge a cache of batteries that power an electrodialysis machine that removes salt from the water and makes it perfectly drinkable. David L. Chandler explains for MIT News:

“Electrodialysis works by passing a stream of water between two electrodes with opposite charges. Because the salt dissolved in water consists of positive and negative ions, the electrodes pull the ions out of the water, Winter says, leaving fresher water at the center of the flow. A series of membranes separate the freshwater stream from increasingly salty ones.”

Solar-powered desalination plants are nothing new, and officials are investigating potential in water-poor areas such as Chile and California right now, but the technology has so far been extremely expensive to both piece together and run. And this obviously makes it difficult for developing countries to adopt. The key to the MIT plant is the electrodialysis process, says Chandler.


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