Our thirsty world has problems with an insufficient amount of potable water. A Chinese research effort may have an answer in an off-grid, wind-powered, seawater desalination system developed by the Jiangsu Academy of Macroeconomic Research. The demo project can produce 100 tons of freshwater per day (about 1,000 gal/hr) from seawater. The system, which consumes 2.1 to 2.4 kWh of electricity for every ton of processed seawater, scales to larger output, and can be powered with electricity from a variety of sources. The next step, says research lead Professor and Dr. Gu WeiDung, is a commercial design for converting 10,000 tons of seawater a day. The system was recently announced as winner of the sixth BlueSky Award, one given for notable scientific achievements.
The design produces fresh water by pushing pressurized seawater through a reverse osmosis module. Dr. Gu says the system increases its efficiency by 10 to 15% over a previous model by means of mechanical energy transfer. The system is said to be easy to install and maintain because it fits entirely inside the lower portion of a wind-turbine tower. When compared with a traditional membrane desalination system, the design allows an 80% reduction in footprint over traditional membrane desalination systems (it’s tall), a 60% reduction in failure rate, a 40% drop in cost, and a 30% improvement in energy use. Another plus says Dr. Gu, is that all production is localized due to its independently developed technology.
Power to drive the system can come from a variety of sources but is expected to be deployed in coastal locations where winds are plentiful. The latest model, a fifth generation, uses power from a wind turbine to drive an integrated pressure boost and energy recovery device.
The BlueSky Award for Global Top Investment Scenarios says it and the supporting organizations were assembled to provide guidance on large-scale applications of renewable energy in developing countries in a move to ease conventional fossil fuel shortages and mitigate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on global climate.
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