Solar Photovoltaic Desalination

Project ID: 4850
Principal Investigator: Mitchell Haws
Research Topic: Desalination and Water Treatment
Priority Area Assignments: 2011 (Advanced Water Treatment), 2012 (Advanced Water Treatment), 2013 (Advanced Water Treatment), 2014 (Advanced Water Treatment)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014
Keywords: None

Research Question

According to the Desalination and Water Purification Technologies Roadmap, "Water is the backbone of our economy - safe and adequate supplies of water are vital for agriculture, industry, recreation, and human consumption. By 2020, desalination and water purification technologies will contribute significantly to ensuring a safe, sustainable, affordable, and adequate water supply for the United States." The research under this proposal may be another component in providing this water supply.

The research questions that will help move us closer to realizing another water purification technology are:

Are there opportunities to use impaired or brackish water resources not currently being used because of their marginal quality and treat them to potable standards in areas that are outside the traditional water and electrical power infrastructure grid?

Can a renewable energy treatment system be used in treating these marginal water supplies?

Can concentrating solar panels be used in a desalination treatment train to produce potable water supplies in these off- grid locations?

Need and Benefit

There is a large need for potable water supplies in rural and urban areas of Arizona that are not connected to a local water supply or to the State and nation's electrical grid. This research will explore the possibilities of providing potable water and alternative power supplies for citizens of Arizona and potentially others who do not have access to clean drinking water or who are not connected to unlimited power supplies.

Large numbers of Native Americans living in Arizona have little or no local access to clean, potable water. They are required to haul water for domestic, culinary, and livestock use. There are estimates that these families spend in the range of $43,000 per acre-foot for water employing this method. This water is some of the most expensive in the United States for a sector of the population that is among the poorest. Since the power grid is not available to most of these people, electricity is mostly nonexistent.

This research has the potential to solve two issues that exist in rural and urban Arizona, which could be portable to other Southwestern States. Furthermore, it is anticipated that this process is scalable and could be used in large urban settings for an alternative to existing types of water and energy production.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Independent Peer Review

The following documents were reviewed by qualified Bureau of Reclamation employees. The findings were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Solar Photovoltaic Desalination Using Distillation (final, PDF, 8.7MB)
By Mitchell Haws
Report completed on October 10, 2014

In an effort to further the research in Solar Desalination a test facility was developed at well site 5T-529 near Leupp Arizona. A solar power plant was developed which produced 5.4 kW of electricity and 8 Therms of heat (800,000 btu). A weather station to gather meteorological data was install at the site. A dedicated solar pumping system was developed to insure adequate water supplies for the test facility and local livestock populations. The power plants and pumping systems were commission

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Solar Photovoltaic Desalination using Distillation (final, PDF, 1.3MB)
By Mitchell Haws
Publication completed on September 30, 2014

This bulletin summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

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Last Updated: 6/22/20