TU Delft uses wind energy to desalinate water for drinking.

Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (TU Delft) has developed a windmill that combines desalination and wind energy to produce safe, reliable drinking water for remote areas, that have a shortage of fresh water but enough wind power.

TU Delft explains the process they use:

“Desalination is an energy intensive process and Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination is by far the most energy efficient technology to desalinate water. Reverse Osmosis is a pressure difference separation technique. It uses the natural osmosis process that occurs through a semi-permeable membrane with two solutions that have different concentrations of salts in it. At equal pressure and temperature the water will flow through the membrane from less concentrated solution to one with larger concentration, and will dilute it, till the concentrations are equal. When a certain pressure applied that is larger then a certain osmotic pressure the flow goes the other way, flowing from a more concentrated side to a more diluted solutions. That process is called Reverse Osmosis.”

Some Experimental RO installations exist throughout the world that are driven by the electricity produced by wind turbines. TU Delft has improved on these systems as usually the wind energy is transformed to electricity, then stored, and transferred to mechanical energy back to drive the high pressure pumps that pressurize the feed water for the RO-installations. These transformations cause energy losses throughout the process. TU Delfts breakthrough uses a high pressure pump directly connected to the windmill and so limits the energy losses to a minimum. The University asserts that “the RO installation is operated intermittently due to the variable character of the wind and product water is stored, which is much less expensive then the electricity storage facilities. ” The desalination installation is operated fully mechanically and hydraulically.

The installation is designed for small scale operation and has a capacity of 5 to 10 m³ of fresh water per day. This is estimated to be enough for a small town of 500 people and with a reservoir can cover periods when there is no of wind up to five days.

The prototype has been operational in Delft and is to be dismantled and transported to Curaçao the first week of March, where the concept will be tested on seawater.

This process of wind driven desalination offers an efficient, inexpensive, energy conserving method of providing fresh drinking water in remote coastal locations that would otherwise have to rely on water being transported in.

As TU Delft says, it really is a process of “drinking the wind !”


~ by abstraktbiblos on Tuesday, 4 March, 2008.

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