A solar-powered desalination method inspired by plants could produce up to twice the amount of clean water as typical solar methods.
Developed by a team from Politecnico di Torino, the prototype desalination system relies on a porous membrane that collects seawater as it floats on the water’s surface. The water is then heated by solar energy, with the process facilitated by membranes that keep the clean and contaminated water separate.
To achieve their higher clean water output, the team focused on efficient management of the solar energy, recycling the heat in several cascade evaporation processes. According to the development team, “Technologies based on this process are typically called 'multi-effect', and here we provide the first evidence that this strategy can be very effective for 'passive' desalination technologies as well.”