New solar-powered system converts saltwater into drinking water

The KCL research team said the new system works by separating the salt using a set of specialised membranes which channel salt ions into a stream of brine, leaving the water fresh and drinkable. 


By flexibly adjusting the voltage and the rate at which salt water flowed through the system, the researchers developed a system that adjusts to variable sunshine while not compromising on the amount of fresh drinking water produced.


Using data first gathered in the village of Chelleru near Hyderabad in India, and then recreating these conditions of the village in New Mexico, the research team converted up to 10m3 of fresh drinking water. This was enough for 3,000 people a day, with the process continuing to run regardless of variable solar power caused by cloud coverage and rain.


The researchers said that the process is over 20 per cent cheaper than traditional methods and could signal a step change in providing clean water in developing countries and beyond.