Solar Desalination Technology for Mid-Sized Applications
Department of Energy
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Small Business Information
Ail Research, Inc.
P.O. Box 3662, 50 Washington Road, Princeton, NJ, 08543
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractSecure sources of clean fresh water are essential to the welfare of communities throughout the world. To meet the growing demand for fresh water, communities are increasingly relying on large-scale desalination plants. Unfortunately, the source of energy to run these plants has almost always been fossil fuels. This project will develop a desalination technology that runs primarily on solar energy and can be economically competitive with fossil-fuel based systems. All thermal desalination processes first evaporate seawater and then condense the water vapor to produce freshwater. The new approach will employ a novel configuration for the evaporator and condenser, which will: (1) eliminate the need for large, costly vacuum shells; (2) convert the shells from expensive metallic heat exchangers to low-cost, corrosion-resistant plastic heat exchangers; and (3) retain high efficiency when a solar thermal energy source. In addition, a solar collector, designed specfically for desalination applications and much less expensive than conventional collectors, will be developed. Phase I will include: small scale bench-top experiments to both optimize and prove the performance of the novel evaporator/condenser; a proof-of-concept demonstration of a low-cost solar thermal collector, which is integrated into the desalination plant; a conceptual design for a full-scale plant; and an estimate for the cost of producing water from this plant. Commercial Applications and other Benefits as described by the awardee: In addition to desalination, the technology also should be applicable to the purification of brackish water ¿ which would be extremely important in the Southwest, where economic growth is straining water supplies and brackish water is frequently available. By efficiently producing mineral-free water, the novel desalination technology also could increase the use of high-efficiency evaporative coolers for HVAC applications
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