Solar-powered cup brews better brine treatments | 5/29/2017 | Staff
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A new distillation device can better recycle contaminants produced by a desalination plant to dramatically reduce waste.

When sea water is purified using reverse osmosis membranes, a liquid brine containing salts and other impurities is often disposed of directly into the environment. Strict regulations are now pushing desalination plants to adopt zero liquid discharge principles to treat this waste water. Current technologies, however, rely on expensive electrical or thermal treatments to concentrate the brine.

Approach - Peng - Wang - Colleagues - Water

A more sustainable approach is now being investigated by Peng Wang and colleagues from the Water Desalination and Reuse Centerat KAUST. The team is developing solar photothermal distillation devices that can convert sunlight into heat. When placed upon a typical sample of liquid brine, these photothermal devices can evaporate water with 90 percent energy efficiency.

One problem with using solar distillation devices to isolate clean water from brine is that as liquid evaporates there is a sharp increase in salt concentrations in the effluent. This can cause a thick crust to form on top of the photothermal material, blocking sunlight absorption and reducing the distillation rate dramatically.

Wang - Colleagues - Membranes - Formation - Distillation

Wang and colleagues looked at how salt precipitated on flat, disc-shaped membranes to better understand crust formation. Solar distillation experiments showed...
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