That’s a lot of words to digest. It’s also one hell of a claim.
A few days ago, my friends and I were listing out possible winners of a Third World War- you know, the one that’s going to take place over water? Iceland was one option. Canada was another, especially after Hassan Minhaj’s revelatory ‘Wacanada’ episode of Patriot Act. The United States, much to our collective disappointment, made the cut too.
But suddenly, there comes hope. A tiny hope, but hope nonetheless. Specifically, the news that a team of researchers based in Saudi Arabia have invented a solar-powered device that purifies saline water while simultaneously producing electricity.
Like I said, one hell of a claim.
Last month, the team- Wenbin Wang, Yusuf Shi, Chenlin Zhang, Seunghyun Hong, Le Shi, Jian Chang, Renyuan Li, Yong Jin, Chisiang Ong, Sifei Zhuo, and Peng Wang- published a paper describing their work and the device in the Nature Communications journal.
Given the drought in Chennai and other parts of India, this technology sounds like something that the country could definitely use. It’s only a prototype at the moment, but the team envisions it creating fresh water in areas where the existing water sources are scarce or contaminated.
It is our hope that we move quickly to push this technology towards its large-scale adoption,Prof Peng Wang to The Guardian
Hyderabad-based Uravu Labs is also working on creating ‘aquapanels’- a solar-powered device that will reportedly turn water vapour into potable drinking water. Although their technology is pending patent, the company was one of the final 5 teams at the Water Abundance XPRIZE 2018. They claim that their panels will be able to function in any climatic conditions, and that each aquapanel can collect up to 15-20l of safe water per day.
The Saudi-team’s desalinator-generator prototype can reportedly produce around 1.7 liters of clean water every hour. Cost-wise, given that the prototype device combines two types of devices that usually each require a large land area as well as mounting systems, the cost of production will naturally be be lower. Furthermore, the researchers said that the rate of electricity production by their device is equal to and in some cases greater than the rates of convention solar PV cells.
Now they just have to recreate the same success outside the lab.