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Desalinate Fresh Water from Solar Distillation Pond

Desalination of salt water and brackish water is becoming a critical issue as inland lakes and ponds suffer from droughts and water relocation projects.

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Ecosystems suffer first. Terminus lakes could benefit from a new desalination system being developed at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Terminus lakes are located in closed-basin regions where there is no outflow for the water and a high evaporation rate, leaving a high concentration of minerals and salts.

This new, low cost way to desalinate water uses a specialized low-cost solar pond and patented membrane distillation system powered by renewable energy.

Hundreds of terminus lakes worldwide such as the Great Salt Lake, the Salton Sea in California, the Aral Sea and Nevada's  Walker Lake are experiencing a decline in water levels and an increase in salinity from both human and natural processes," says Francisco Suarez, a doctoral student in hydrological sciences.

Suarez is developing an artificial salt-gradient stratification process that traps solar heat at the bottom of the solar pond and uses the collected energy to power the membrane distillation system recently patented by the University. The hot brine in the lower storage zone of the pond, which can reach temperatures greater than 195 degrees Fahrenheit, may be used directly for heating, thermal desalination, or for other low-temperature thermal applications.

The process has been highly successful in the lab in a small-scale experiment using a 400-gallon tank, where dissolved solids and precise fiber-optic temperature sensing are being used to track the process as it desalinates the water. The next step for Suarez and the research group is to build a pilot-project, demonstration-scale, low-temperature desalination system in an open environment.

This desalination system is designed to help sustain the ecosystems of these closed-basin regions.

Read more about this desalination system at the University of Nevada


Edited by Carolyn Allen, Managing Editor of Solutions For Green

Publication Date: 1/7/2010
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