A research team from the University of South Australia (UniSA) on Friday, April 16, 2021, announced that they had created a cheap and sustainable device to produce drinking water for billions of people.
Haolan Xu, head of the research team, said that the photothermal structural device can produce fresh water from seawater , brackish water, or contaminated water through a very efficient evaporation process using sunlight.
Xu said the device could produce enough drinking water for a family of four for a day from a 1 square meter water source.
“In recent years, a lot of attention has been paid to using sunlight -based evaporation to produce clean drinking water. However, the previous techniques were too inefficient to be of practical use,” Xu said in a media release.
“We have overcome these inefficiencies, and our technology can now produce enough clean water to support some practical needs at a fraction of the cost of existing technologies such as reverse osmosis.”
Xu explained that they extract energy from bulk water during the solar-based evaporation process and use it in evaporation. This method helps water processing become efficient enough to produce between 10 and 20 liters of clean water per square meter per day.
The new devices are superior to similar technologies because they are more efficient, practical, and are made from low-cost and sustainable materials, Xu continued.
“One of the main objectives of our research is that later it can be used practically, so the materials we use are only from hardware stores or supermarkets,” Xu said.
“The only exception is the photothermal material. But even for that we use a very simple and cost-effective process. The real progress we are making lies in the design of the system and the optimization of its energy connection, not the materials.”
Furthermore, Xu said that because the device is very simple and requires almost no maintenance, it requires no special technical expertise to operate it and the maintenance costs are cheap.
“This technology has enormous potential in providing long-term drinking water solutions for people and communities who cannot afford other options, and it is in such an environment that these solutions are urgently needed,” Xu added.