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Solar Desalination Is a Cost-Effective and Environment Friendly Method of Turning Saltwater Into Potable Freshwater For Drinking and Agriculture Purposes

by Therese Agcopra / Sep 28, 2015 08:35 AM EDT

The high demand for drinking water combined with depleting sources for it has moved researchers to invent methods to utilize other sources of water and make it potable. One of those methods is solar desalination.

According to Scientific America, solar desalination is basically a technique used to remove salt from saltwater, resulting in clear, potable freshwater. The process makes use of a specially designed still that utilizes solar power in order to boil seawater. The steam produced is then captured, cooled, and condensed to form the final product.

California-based company WaterFX has introduced its newest technology, the Aqua4 "concentrated solar still", which is reportedly 30 times more efficient that natural evaporation techniques. The Aqua4 can produced up to 65,000 gallons of freshwater a day. It can also desalinate water sources other than seawater.

WaterFX's subsidiary HydroRevolution plans to put up a commercial solar desalination plant in the agricultural area of Central Valley. Land used for agriculture is an ideal spot to locate the desalination plant since crops absorb pure water from soil, and leave behind salt and other materials that contaminate water. It's the solar desalination system's job to drain farmlands of toxic minerals to provide freshwater and boost crop productivity.  

Think Progress wrote in an article that aside from being cost-effective, WaterFX's new technology does not contribute to climate change. Sandra Postel, Global Water Policy Project director, said "It's super exciting to me because it opens up the possibility of farmers and irrigation districts leasing some water back to the environment." She added, "It could be a win-win for farmers and the environment."

Saudi Arabia has also adopted this method. A large-scale solar desalination plant is currently being constructed and is scheduled to operate in 2017.

Sandra Postel said, "Conserving or recycling even a small share of this water can make a big difference."

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