Science & Technology News Since 1998 posted an interesting article about an MIT PhD student, Natasha Wright, who studied mechanical engineering, and designed a solar powered system that makes water safe to drink for rural, off-grid Indian villages.
After six trips to India, Wright realized that what the people in several Indian villages needed was a way to “remove salt from groundwater to make it more palatable.”
For years now there have been filters to remove contaminants from the water in India, making it safe to drink, but none of them, Wright learned, have removed the foul taste of salt. Wright interviewed a number of villagers, finding that many of them weren’t using these filters, because of the remaining saltiness.
“Wright began designing an electrodialysis desalination system, which uses a difference in electric potential to pull salt out of water.This type of desalination system has been around since the 1950s, but is typically only used municipally, to justify its costs. Wright’s project aims to build a system that’s scaled for a village of 5,000 people and still cost-effective.
While other companies are already installing desalination systems across India, their designs are intended to be grid-powered. When operating off the grid, these systems are not cost-effective, essentially blocking disconnected, rural villages from using them.
Wright’s solution offers an alternative to grid power: She’s designed a village-scale desalination system that runs on solar power. Since her system is powered by the sun, operational and maintenance costs are fairly minimal: The system requires an occasional cartridge filter change, and that’s it.”