Category: Solar powered water desalination science project

Solar powered water desalination science project

solar powered water desalination science project

Desalination is an important technology that may help unlock more drinking water, and now two independent teams have developed new types of solar-powered desalination systems using very different mechanisms. The team says the multilayer system has an impressive overall efficiency of percent, producing as much as 5.

Each of the layers, arranged vertically, has an important role to play in the process. That in turn passes the heat onto several layers of wicking material, which have sucked the water up from below. The water evaporates out of that layer and strikes another surface, where it condenses and drips off to be collected. The team says that much of the efficiency comes from the way heat is conserved. Rather than being lost to the environment, the heat gets passed along to each evaporation layer in turn.

As the device cools down, the salt diffuses back down the material into the seawater. The second system, designed by researchers at the University of Bath, University of Johannesburg and Bogor Agricultural University, uses a very different mechanism. Rather than moving the water through a membrane and leaving the salt behind, this device does the opposite, pulling the salt out of the water.

This feat is possible using an ionic system. Separating two chambers is a thin, synthetic, semi-permeable membrane that only allows salt ions to flow in one direction. Unlike the first system, which returns the leftover material to the sea, the team says that this salt can be collected for other uses. The researchers on both projects say that these two designs would be useful for small-scale water desalination, possibly in portable units. That means they could be deployed in developing countries or in disaster-stricken areas, to provide drinking water when regular infrastructure is otherwise unavailable.

The second study appeared in the journal Desalinationand is explained in the video below. LOG IN. Menu HOME. Search Query Submit Search. Facebook Twitter Flipboard LinkedIn. A test unit of the MIT-designed desalination system, installed on a rooftop. View 2 Images.

solar powered water desalination science project

A diagram demonstrating how the different layers in the MIT desalination system work. Solar-powered device to remove salt from water has been developed in Bath. Michael Irving. Michael has always been fascinated by space, technology, dinosaurs, and the weirder mysteries of the universe. With a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and several years experience under his belt, he joined New Atlas as a staff writer in Sign in to post a comment.

Claims of "efficiency of percent" are confusing. Is this a typo? If not, I'd like to know what numbers are being compared to get this odd measurement. Latest News. Load More. Top Stories. Digital Cameras. Mobile Technology.The Objective : The goal of my project is to test whether the use of black paint or aluminum foil will facilitate solar desalination.

My hypothesis was that the aluminum foil desalinators would be the most effective because they would reflect the sunlight back into the water. I built 9 identical solar desalinators. I covered the bottom on 3 of them with aluminum foil, and painted the bottom of 3 others black. The last 3 served as my control group, so I left them plain. I filled the desalinators with 2 cups of ocean water and left them outside undisturbed, from 8 am to 2 pm.

Every 2 hours I recorded the temperature of the ocean water inside the desalinators and also the temperature of the day.

At the end of the day, I measured the amount and salinity of the collected condensate. I re-tested all the desalinators on 2 more days, which showed that regardless of the weather, the black desalinators are the most effective in solar desalination. Contrary to my hypothesis, the aluminum foil desalinators produced the least amount of condensate. The black desalinators generally had the highest temperatures throughout the day, which accounts for the high amount of condensate collected, compared to the plain and aluminum foil desalinators.

All of my readings were zero salinity which shows that solar power does effectively desalinate ocean water. The results of this experiment disagreed with my initial hypothesis. The black desalinators were the most effective and had the highest temperatures over the aluminum foil and plain desalinators.

Air pockets between the aluminum foil and the sides of the jug may have acted as insulating zones which slowed the heat transfer. Black surfaces act as "thermal collectors" by absorbing light and generating heat.

This project consisted of building nine desalinators and testing whether the use of black paint or aluminum foil would be the most effective in ocean water desalination using solar power. Bio Chemistry. Plant Biology. Human Biology.Reducing salt water to its basic elements -- salt and water -- is so simple that it's become a science lesson for first-graders.

In fact, a "solar still" can turn salt water into fresh water in just a few days. Simply fill a large bowl with salt water and set an empty glass at the center. Then cover the bowl -- empty glass and all -- with plastic wrap that has a small hole poked in the middle. Place the contraption in direct sunlight, and watch the water cycle at work: The salt water evaporates, leaves salt crystals behind, and creates condensation that rises, gathers on the plastic membrane and drips into the empty glass.

The resulting fresh water is good enough to drink [source: Williams ]. But why remove salt in the first place? Turns out, drinking salt water can kill you. Ingesting salt signals your cells to flush water molecules to dilute the mineral. Too much salt, and this process can cause a really bad chain reaction: Your cells will be depleted of moisture, your kidneys will shut down and your brain will become damaged.

The only way to offset this internal chaos is to urinate with greater frequency to expel all that salt, a remedy that could work only if you have access to lots of fresh drinking water [source: Thompson ]. People -- especially those in water-starved parts of the world -- have been searching for fresh water solutions for centuries. Turns out the same folks who built giant sphinxes and drove horse-drawn chariots also thirsted for clean, pure water [source: Jesperson ].

Even in modern times, entire populations struggle with a cruel irony; they are surrounded by salt water, but lack drinking water.

The scarcity sometimes spurs deadly conflicts. Inonlookers killed a family in drought-ridden India for collecting water from a municipal well before it ran dry [source: Pacific Institute ].

But what if an abundant supply of fresh water could be created from salt water? A large-scale desalination operation -- using principles similar to a simple classroom project -- could change the world. On the next page, we'll explore why it's not always so easy to turn salt water into drinking water.

How Water Works. About 70 percent of the world is water, but so little can actually be used because most of it is salt water. Up Next How Water Works.People have been trying to turn seawater into drinking water for thousands of years, but the process is not usually energy-efficient or affordable. At a newly constructed facility in Kenya, however, a nonprofit called GivePower is tackling that challenge using solar power.

The desalination system, which started operating in the coastal area of Kiunga in Julycan create 19, gallons 75, liters of fresh drinking water each day — enough for 25, people.

GivePower's solar-powered water farm in Kiunga, Kenya. Barnard hopes to scale the system up and open similar facilities around the globe to provide clean, fresh water for those who struggle to get it. Byhalf the world's population is expected to live in water-stressed areas.

How Desalination Works

SolarCity merged with Tesla inbut Barnard spun GivePower off as its own organization shortly before that. The nonprofit mostly focuses on building solar-energy systems to provide electricity across the developing world. GivePower has installed solar grids in over 2, locations — primarily schools, medical clinics, and villages — across 17 countries, according to its website. Schoolchildren in Kiunga, Kenya enjoy the new solar desalination device.

But regardless of whether or not a school has reliable electricity, limited access to fresh water keeps many girls out of the classroom. Women and children across Africa and Asia walk an average of 3.

Could we provide the most affordable, healthy, sustainable water? And at scale? Desalination technology is not new, but it uses high-power pumps and is notoriously energy-intensive and therefore expensive. The solar-microgrid system that GivePower has created, however, can produce almost 20, gallons of fresh drinking water each day. It relies on Tesla batteries for energy storage, and it uses two parallel pumps so that the system can run at all times, even if one pump requires maintenance.

A saltwater well in Kiunga, Kenya. That situation isn't hypothetical in Kiunga: An ongoing drought that began in has forced residents to drink from salt water wells, even though doing so can cause kidney failure, according to GivePower.

Kiunga resident Mohammed Atik said in a promotional video about the GivePower project that the "salt water from the wells are not treated," which is why using it can lead to health issues. A woman in Kiunga washes clothes with salt water. In the future, Barnard envisions smaller, modular-style solar desalination units that would use a single pump and a kilowatt solar grid with three Tesla batteries.

GivePower could combine the systems "like Legos" to scale up, Barnard said. Barnard wants those facilities to be up and running by the end of the year.

GivePower is also scouting a site in Colombia for a similar future project. Tahmir, a child in Kiunga who developed sores from clothes washed in salt water, drinks fresh water. In all of these places, one of GivePower's major challenges is establishing systems for distributing the fresh water that the plants create.

Barnard hopes local people and organizations at each site will volunteer to distribute water, and nearby hospitals, schools, or hotels will pay to take several thousand liters each day. He also hopes some business-minded locals will buy the water and resell it in other towns. He added that the desalination plant has already spurred new economic activity in Kiunga. A group of women there started a freshwater clothes-washing business, Barnard said, and one man fills a tank with the water and drives it to nearby communities to sell.

Account icon An icon in the shape of a person's head and shoulders.A completely passive solar-powered desalination system developed by researchers at MIT and in China could provide more than 1. Such systems could potentially serve off-grid arid coastal areas to provide an efficient, low-cost water source.

The system uses multiple layers of flat solar evaporators and condensers, lined up in a vertical array and topped with transparent aerogel insulation. The key to the system's efficiency lies in the way it uses each of the multiple stages to desalinate the water. At each stage, heat released by the previous stage is harnessed instead of wasted. In this way, the team's demonstration device can achieve an overall efficiency of percent in converting the energy of sunlight into the energy of water evaporation.

The device is essentially a multilayer solar still, with a set of evaporating and condensing components like those used to distill liquor. It uses flat panels to absorb heat and then transfer that heat to a layer of water so that it begins to evaporate. The vapor then condenses on the next panel. That water gets collected, while the heat from the vapor condensation gets passed to the next layer. Whenever vapor condenses on a surface, it releases heat; in typical condenser systems, that heat is simply lost to the environment.

But in this multilayer evaporator the released heat flows to the next evaporating layer, recycling the solar heat and boosting the overall efficiency.

Adding more layers increases the conversion efficiency for producing potable water, but each layer also adds cost and bulk to the system. The team settled on a stage system for their proof-of-concept device, which was tested on an MIT building rooftop.

The system delivered pure water that exceeded city drinking water standards, at a rate of 5. This is more than two times as much as the record amount previously produced by any such passive solar-powered desalination system, Wang says. Theoretically, with more desalination stages and further optimization, such systems could reach overall efficiency levels as high as or percent, Zhang says.

Unlike some desalination systems, there is no accumulation of salt or concentrated brines to be disposed of. In a free-floating configuration, any salt that accumulates during the day would simply be carried back out at night through the wicking material and back into the seawater, according to the researchers.

Their demonstration unit was built mostly from inexpensive, readily available materials such as a commercial black solar absorber and paper towels for a capillary wick to carry the water into contact with the solar absorber.

In most other attempts to make passive solar desalination systems, the solar absorber material and the wicking material have been a single component, which requires specialized and expensive materials, Wang says.Build a solar-powered water desalination device with materials ready for assembly. This product is sensitive to extreme heat and cold.

To maintain its integrity, shipping options will be limited to one- or two-day methods to a physical address during certain times of year. This kit is based on an award-winning state science fair project. The desalination process requires some tinkering to correctly set up the experiment.

Please read the FAQ page before starting your experiment to understand common challenges and recommended solutions.

solar powered water desalination science project

Additional supplies, which can be found on this Materials and Equipment pageare required. Ocean water is too salty to drink. With this environmental science kit, you will make a solar desalination device that uses a power source that is free—the sun! This science project kit contains all the materials you need to build a working desalination chamber without making trips to multiple stores. We've gathered all the hard-to find pieces, like plastic boxes and funnels that are just the right size, the right weight washers, a beaker, and a graduated cylinder, in one simple kit.

We've even pre-drilled the holes in the rectangular boxes and cups so you will spend less time setting up the experiment and more time enjoying the results! How much desalinated water can the device produce, and is the water still salty at all? Will the color of the bottom of the chamber affect its performance? Use this kit to answer these questions and more! Instructions for this kit are available online.

See below for links to the instructions and more.

How solar-powered desalination works - Sustainable clean water for islands & coastlines

Our products are durable, reliable, and affordable to take you from the field to the lab to the kitchen. They won't let you down, no matter what they're up against. Whether it's over eager young scientists year after year, or rigorous requirements that come once-in-a lifetime. And if your science inquiry doesn't go as expected, you can expect our customer service team to help. Count on friendly voices at the other end of the phone and expert advice in your inbox. They're not happy until you are.

Bottom line?Build and test a solar-powered device for desalinating water and investigate how the color of the bottom of the device affects its efficiency. Nicholas Kinsman is interested in inventing solar-powered devices to reduce our dependence on other energy sources. Nicholas set out to build a simple, inexpensive device to desalinate seawaterusing readily available materials and easy construction methods. Typical seawater contains dissolved salts at concentrations between 32 and That means that if you started with one kilogram of seawater which is approximately one liter of seawater and then you allowed all of the water to evaporate, you would be left with between 32 and With all of that salt, seawater is not suitable for drinking nor for watering most plants.

The fluid circulating in your body blood plasma contains much less salt than seawater on the order of 9 grams of total dissolved solids. If you were to drink seawater, your body would actually lose water, because the high salt concentration of the seawater causes an osmotic pressure gradient which drives water out of your cells. Desalination is the process of removing the dissolved salts from water, making it pure enough for drinking or irrigation. Nicholas's first design for a desalination device is shown in Figure 1 below.

There are eight small bottles surrounding the large collection jug. Each of the small bottles is filled with seawater. The small bottles have holes in their caps. One end of a flexible straw is inserted into the hole, and the other connects to the large collection jug at the center.

When the entire device is set out in the sunlight, the seawater in the small bottles heats up, which causes the water to evaporate and fill the small bottles with water vapor. The idea was that as the water vapor increased, it would condense in the straws and flow down into the collection jug. Unfortunately, the idea did not work. You can see in the picture that there is condensation on the inside of the top of the bottles, but there was very little condensation in the straws. Like any good inventor, Nicholas did not let an initial setback discourage him.

He analyzed what was wrong with the design and set out to improve it. His second design, shown in Figure 2 below, still follows the same principles of using readily available materials and easy construction methods, but also includes some important improvements.

One important change is that this time Nicholas's design uses a container with a larger surface area to hold the seawater. Two plastic jugs are used as desalination devices.

Solar Powered Water Desalination Kit

The first jug lays on its side with the top facing wall cut out. Plastic wrap covers the gap in the jugs wall and a quarter is placed on the plastic wrap to create a low spot where condensation can collect and drip down into a funnel.

The funnel underneath the quarter is made from a plastic bottle cut in half and feeds into a straw that goes through the cap of the funnel. The straw from the funnel passes through the plastic jug walls and empties into a collection cup. The entire plastic just is covered in aluminum foil except for the plastic wrap that covers the gap made in the plastic jug wall.


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