Today’s Solutions: May 27, 2022

Desalination offers a lot of promise to communities that may face water scarcity in the future. For some, the problem is compounded by the potential scarcity of reliable electricity. As such, it has been the aim of many researchers to develop solar-powered desalination devices, which is a difficult balance to strike. 

However, a team of MIT researchers have recently developed a desalination system that is solar-powered and inexpensive. 

Issues with desalination 

A common problem in the development of desalination systems has been the accumulation of salt. This is particularly problematic when trying to make desalination systems function on solar energy. Previous attempts have used a special wick to absorb and filter saltwater through the device. These, though, accumulate salt and require a lot of cleaning. 

The new MIT system is instead multilayered, using multiple panels to absorb heat and filter out potable water while transferring heat from one layer to the next above. This process has no accumulation of salt or brine. 

Taking desalination to the next level

Additionally, the MIT system’s multiple levels greatly improve efficiency. It functions a lot like a liquor still. Basically, with each level added to a device of this design you improve energy efficiency. 

“When you condense water, you release energy as heat,” said professor of mechanical engineering and department head, Evelyn Wang to MIT News. “If you have more than one stage, you can take advantage of that heat.”

A one-square-meter-sized version of this device could provide more than 1.5 gallons of drinking water per hour. It goes without saying that the energy costs in running a system like this would be minimal, as it is solar-powered. This system takes it a step further, though, with a version big enough to serve an average family’s potable water needs being able to be built for only around $100. 

This innovation is also able to decontaminate other sources of dirty water. For communities in the developing world, MIT’s solar-powered desalination system is nothing short of a gamechanger. 

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

US injects $3.5 billion into carbon removal technologies

The US has ambitious goals to reach and maintain a net-zero economy by 2050. To get the nation closer to this objective, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is accelerating its Carbon Negative Shot initiative ... Read More

Pennsylvania schools doubled their solar power in the last two years

Renewable energy production is taking off in the Keystone State. A new report from the nonprofit Generation180 reveals that Pennsylvania schools doubled their solar power capacity over the last two years of the Pandemic. This ... Read More

Recycled old tires could make roads last twice as long

Prolonged sun exposure is one of the main contributors to asphalt cracking. That’s because the heat from the sun dries up the road’s moisture content, making it brittle and prone to wear. A team of ... Read More

Germany slashes public transportation costs to reduce fossil fuel dependence

In the energy standoff between Europe and Russia, Germany has taken many measures to accelerate the phasing out of oil and gas. It has resolved to make energy cheaper for homes and businesses. It has ... Read More

Want to keep sharks and beachgoers safe? There’s an app for that

Sharks, as top predators, are a keystone species. This means the balance of whole marine ecosystems relies heavily on sharks' well-being. Protecting and conserving sharks is of the utmost importance, especially since they already face ... Read More

New gel film pulls drinking water from the air in even the driest places

Getting water to drought-stricken areas is an increasing concern for scientists. In the future, desalination systems will become simpler and more accessible to get water to those who need it, but another solution could be ... Read More


Emissaries, Log in to hide this reminder

You have read 17 aricles on The Optimist Daily. Support reader-funded independent journalism. Help us make a difference in the world, shifting consciousness towards a solution focused mindset.

For just $5 per month Emissaries have access to unlimited solutions and a community of like minded positive thinkers.