Incredible two-in-one device can remedy both energy shortages and dirty water for millions of people in underdeveloped countries
- Researchers in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, have come up with an idea for a solar distillation device
- Solar panels produce energy as normal, but the heat by-product is used below
- It ensures that dirty water evaporates and passes through the membrane that cleans
- Evaporation also provides heat, which is used on a second layer of distillation
A solar panel was invented by scientists who not only produce electricity, but also drinking water.
The new device uses some of the excess heat to evaporate seawater – and the inventor says he hopes that deserts will help flourish and provide clean drinking water for millions.
It is hoped that the panel can help to meet the increasing demand for energy and clean water.
Scientists have invented a two-in-one device that produces clean energy and purifies dirty water that could help millions of people. Depicted: an Afghan refugee fetches clean water in Lahore, Pakistan
Although the idea of combining both instruments has been considered in the past, previous prototypes were too inefficient to be commercially viable.
To solve this problem, the latest design of the group reuses the heat produced when water evaporates after each distillation phase.
Write about the idea inside Nature communication, they explained that the device has a solar panel on top that converts solar energy into energy as normal.
This solar panel produces heat as a by-product, which can be used to heat dirty water when it flows underneath, causing it to evaporate.
It then goes through a porous membrane layer that cleans the water vapor before it condenses and is pumped away.
This process in turn produces heat, which is passed on to the underlying layer where more dirty water is distilled.
The process then continues over several layers before the clean water is finally collected in a container.
Researchers have said the device will work on seawater, brackish water, contaminated surface water and groundwater.
Typically, solar panels and water distillation facilities occupy large tracts of land (pictured: a solar farm in Chunjiangyuan, East China) so that the device could solve two problems in one and save space
The invention also produces just as much energy as a solar panel without the added confirmation.
Generally, solar panels and water distillation facilities take up large tracts of land, so that the device can solve two problems in one and save space.
From 2017, 844 million people around the world have no access to clean water, while another 1.1 billion people have no electricity.
HOW DOES THE SOLAR DISTILLATION DEVICE WORK?
The proposed device has a solar panel on the top that produces energy as usual. These panels produce heat as a by-product that is usually moved and remains unused.
In the proposed design, this heat is used to heat dirty water until it evaporates. The evaporated water passes through a membrane that cleanses it, condenses it and then leads it into a container.
The heat generated by the evaporation process is then reused for the underlying layer of water, which is cleaned in the same way.
The scientists proposed two designs – a dead-end mode and a cross-flow mode.
They found that the dead-end mode built up the concentration of salts or other water contaminants and had to be erased manually.
In the cross-flow mode, the concentrated dirty water flows out of the device before it needs to be cleaned.
Shown: Dead-end mode (left) and cross-flow mode (right) versions of the proposed solar distillation equipment
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