New Technology Transforms Salt Water into Fresh Water Using Solar Energy

The Center for Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) has been doing research into water treatment methods and they’ve made some incredible discoveries. They are developing a new technology that utilizes the sunlight to make fresh water from salt water. This new discovery could revolutionize the entire desalinization industry.

The goal is to eventually use this direct solar desalination process to deliver clean drinking water to people in countries that have struggled in this area. Light-harvesting nanophotonics work together with the membrane distillation process to convert sunlight to heat. Scientists from Rice University who are working on refining the technology believe that this could be the game changer as far as being able to offer clean drinking water to the poorest regions of the world. They are currently scaling up the whole procedure so that large communities can get the water they need for good health and cleaner living.

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In spite of all the strides in technology, it is estimated that about 1 billion people on earth still lack access to clean drinking water. Many diseases are associated with drinking polluted water that hasn’t been filtered properly. Though distillation and even desalination have been around for a while, this is the first off-the-grid discovery that not only works well but is also cost efficient.

Researchers believe that numerous new opportunities can ultimately be created as this technology is developed. With the old-fashioned method of distilling water, about half the cost is derived from the energy it takes to heat the water. Using solar power, those costs are greatly reduced.

Engineered nanoparticles can harvest approximately 80 percent of the available sunlight to produce steam. NEWT researchers believe that this discovery will have many far-reaching applications that will revolutionize the process of water treatment. As researchers move forward, they hope to eventually engineer large modular solar panel systems that will be built according to the size of the community.

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NEWT was founded in 2015 by the National Science Foundation for the specific purpose of finding new ways to deliver clean drinking water to the world. This new discovery is expected to encourage other researchers to move forward with innovative research into ways to use solar energy.

Photovoltaic power stations and solar farms are becoming more commonplace because this technology allows you to convert light directly to electricity at much lower costs. Many farmers and ranchers who have not been able to earn a living the traditional way are building solar farms on their land instead. In addition to the revenue that is generated from the solar panel arrays, there are also local, state and federal incentives to encourage companies to invest in alternative energy.

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