Imagine a device the size of large, flat-screen TV that uses sunlight to produce fresh drinking water. Then imagine what you could do with that device. Would you reduce your own dependence on the grid? Give it to a family in need? Send one to a school in Africa? The team from Desolenator is exploring those possibilities — and you can help.

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The quest for clean, drinkable water for families in many countries is not a new problem. Nearly a billion people throughout the world lack reliable access to clean water. Some have to pay to have water trucks come into their communities. Others have to walk, sometimes for hours at a time, to haul water back to their homes. However, there is a team who believes that they not only have a new solution but possibly the best one. By reverse engineering the humble solar panel, the Desolenator team has come up with a way to distill water from any source — including the ocean.

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CEO of Desolenator, William Janssen, said that “A massive 97 percent of the world’s water is salt water and our plan is to tap into this valuable and available resource to disrupt the global water crisis in an unprecedented way. The process is called desalination and today whilst 0.7 percent of the world’s water comes from desalination, existing technology is expensive, inefficient and disproportionally drains 0.5 percent of the world’s global energy supply.”

“Solar stills” are not new technology but the way the Desolenator works is different, the team says. It is efficient, producing up to 15 liters per day, and can last for 20 years or more without the need for any parts or other consumables (no filters to buy, no oil to change).

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By encouraging the solar panel in the unit to get hotter — instead of cooling it down like most solar panels — the Desolenator uses the surface area of the panel to boil water. “The water heats to around 90 degrees,” Janssen says, “at which point we use the electrical energy from the solar panels to boil the water. We then run the steam through a heat exchange mechanism to heat the next batch of salt/polluted water. We then have two outputs, pure clean drinking water and brine (which can be re-circulated through the system).”

The team has launched a massive crowdfunding project so they can start offering their system to the general public. Having already secured the patent for their technology, the team is working to get Desolenators in the backyards of families across India and Africa, as well as other water-stressed areas and in schools.

Via Desolenator and The Huffington Post

Photos by The Desolenator and Flickr/Rod Waddington