Technology 3 min read

New Water Purification Device Also Generates Electricity

A team of researchers in Saudi Arabia has developed a water purification device that not only keeps water free of contaminants but also produces electricity.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Researchers have developed a device that not only addresses water purification issues, but it also generates electricity at the same time.

According to a report, over 780 million people across the globe don’t have access to clean water. While water purification is the obvious solution here, it has never been easy.

Aside from requiring infrastructure that’s beyond the reach of many communities, the process consumes a large amount of electricity. As a result, residents in developing countries often have to spend hours fetching water from a distant source.

Now a team of researchers from Saudi Arabia invented a device that solves two problems in a single stroke. It produces electricity using the sunlight, while simultaneously purifying water.

Since most solar farms are located in the arid region, it only makes sense to use a solar device that can provide clean water at the same time. But, it’s not just for industrial use.

According to the researchers, you can easily set up the device in your backyard to generate power and clean water for a home.

In a statement to the Cosmos Magazine, researcher, and co-author of the study, Peng Wang said:

“The generated clean water can be used [for] cleaning solar panels to remove dust particles; it can be used to irrigate plants and crops, making desert agriculture possible.”

So, how does the device work?

Water Purification Using Sunlight

How the new water purification system works.

In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, Wang and his colleagues described how the device works.

The researchers fitted the top of the device with a horizontal commercial silicon solar cell. Then, directly below the cell, there are several tiers to help filter contaminated water. These include saline and brackish water.

The saline water passing through the tier receives waste heat from the solar cell above. This causes the water to evaporate and pass through a membrane, which then condenses it.

Aside from yielding clean water, the process also releases heat, which in turn warms the saline water in the lower tier. Then the purification process begins all over again.

In the end, the clean water flows out of the device for users to collect.

Although the researchers started with saltwater, they soon discovered that the device could purify seawater contaminated with heavy metals. That means copper, lead, sodium, magnesium, and calcium present in the water would be below the level considered safe for drinking by the WHO.

Before the device makes it to the market, the researchers have to scale-up, while reducing the cost of production.

Wang noted:

“It is our hope that we move quickly to push this technology towards its large-scale adoption.”

Read More: A Rose-Inspired Solar Steaming Method For Efficient Water Purification

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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