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Solar power makes drinking water

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If you think about it, it’s a wonder this hasn’t been done before. Greenbang is of course not talking about a ultimate fighting contest between Jeremy Clarkson and Jamie Oliver for our collective viewing pleasure, but the use of solar power to provide water in developing countries.

From Science Daily:

“The regions have a very poor infrastructure. Quite often there is no electricity grid, so conventional desalination plants are out of the question,” states Joachim Koschikowski of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg. In various EU-funded projects over the past few years, he and his team have developed small, decentralized water desalination plants that produce fresh drinking water with their own independent solar power supply.

“Our plants work on the principle of membrane distillation,” explains Koschikowski. This can best be explained by the principle of a Gore-Tex jacket, in which the membrane prevents rainwater from penetrating through to the skin. At the same time, water vapor formed inside the jacket by perspiration is passed through to the outside. “In our plant, the salty water is heated up and guided along a micro-porous, water-repellent membrane. Cold drinking water flows along the other side of the membrane. The steam pressure gradient resulting from the temperature difference causes part of the salt water to evaporate and pass through the membrane. The salt is left behind, and the water vapor condenses as it cools on the other side. It leaves us with clean, germ-free water,” says Koschikowski.

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