It is known fact that water and electricity should be kept apart, but researchers have created a new solar-powered device that not only produces electricity, but also purifies drinking water.
A team of researchers from Saudi Arabia claim to have created a new type of two-in-one solar power device that can purify water and also produce electricity from sunlight, hence solving two of the major global problems.
The device, as per Futurism, features a standard solar panel placed horizontally with numerous tiers positioned below it. When salty or contaminated water runs from a container through those tiers, the waste heat from the solar cell warms up the uppermost tier of water, which causes it to evaporate via a membrane.
The water becomes clean and is then fed into a collection container, while the heat released during the evaporation process then warms up the next tier of water, and the cycle goes on, detailed the study published in journal Nature Communications.
Daily Mail reports that the researchers believe that the device is able to work on seawater, brackish water, contaminated surface water, and groundwater. However, the team expects that a commercial device could be made available within five years.
The team claims that after the water runs through their created device, its levels of lead, sodium, copper, magnesium, and calcium all drop below the World Health Organization’s pre-defined safe-for-drinking maximums. This means that this device can assist the world meeting its needs for clean energy as well as clean drinking water.
“The uniqueness of the device lies in its smart and effective use of the waste heat of the [photovoltaic] as a resource, which leads to its high efficiency in both electricity and fresh water production,” researcher Peng Wang told Cosmos Magazine. “In a sense, it utilizes solar energy to a much fuller capacity.”