IBM’s New Solar Desalination Tech Could Create Rivers in the Desert

by , 04/07/10

solar power, solar energy, water, desalination, ibm, saudi arabia, green design, eco design

Living in the desert comes with major advantages and disadvantages — excess solar power and not enough water, to be more specific. Now IBM and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology are teaming up to solve the water problem with solar-powered desalination technology. Eventually, the two organizations hope to construct a desalination plant in Al Khafji, Saudi Arabia that can harness sunlight to generate 7.9 million gallons of water daily — enough for 100,000 people.

So how will they achieve such a lofty goal? The plan is to a build a 10 megawatt solar farm that uses concentrating photovoltaic arrays to magnify sunlight 1,500 times on a single solar cell — a whopping three times the intensity of current concentrating photovoltaic panels. The secret sauce is something called a “liquid metal thermal interface”, which cools off the high temperatures created by the PV system.

Acording to Chandrasekhar (Spike) Narayan, who leads the Science and Technology Organization at IBM’s Almaden Research Center, “We can conceivably create a river of fresh water in countries that don’t have rivers–water for the masses at reasonable costs”.

If everything goes as planned, IBM and Saudi researchers will build a pilot plant later this year. Eventually, the technology could make its way to other parts of the world that could use fresh water — i.e. almost everywhere.



Via Green Inc.

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  1. Frank Henderson July 20, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Somalia needs this right now. Coastal desalination plants however small and use solar powered pumps to bring the water inland for irrigation. If food can be produced then famine will become a thing of the past

  2. 3sheerq June 25, 2010 at 7:43 am

    thanx alot for great and useful info
    thank you dear
    al khafji
    Al khafji Classifieds

  3. davidwayneosedach April 8, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    We could certainly use that technology here in southern California! We have a desert like climate and grow a lot of produce that needs fresh H2O.

  4. gerald April 8, 2010 at 11:24 am

    This reminds me of the infamous story of NASA putting great sums of money into developing a highly sophisticated ballpoint that could be used in gravity free space while the Russians just simply used a pencil. Desalination was invented by the Arabs in the 16th century and now IBM is repackaging it and selling it back!. Some people are just to rich to be smart. – Gerald Lindner

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