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Using Concentrated Solar to Purify Drinking Water

Many people across the globe don’t have regular access to potable drinking water, so developing better and more sustainable solutions to water purification, especially low-tech solutions, fits a very real need in the world. A wide range of options are out there, from individual filter straws to family-sized filtration units and village-sized purification systems.

For providing reliable clean water over the long run, especially far off the beaten path, water purification devices need to be not only dependable, but also simple to maintain or fix with just the tools and materials at hand. Having to order a replacement part and then wait for it to arrive to be able to have drinking water again isn’t the best situation to be in.

Epiphany Solar Water System’s water purification device, which uses a parabolic dish to concentrate the sun’s energy onto a distillation unit at its focal point, is designed to use common “off the shelf” components, which can be found or sourced virtually anywhere. Because of that, regular maintenance or repairs to the units are much simpler than they would be on a more complex water purifier.

When in operation, the dirty water enters the distillation unit and is vaporized by the heat, at which point the solids and impurities separate, and all living contaminants (bacteria) are sterilized. The vaporized water then condenses back into liquid water as it cools off, and clean drinking water flows out of the unit for use.

epiphany solarAccording to Epiphany, the only maintenance necessary is an occasional cleaning of particulate buildup from the units, using a simple wire brush. The units are said to be able to be assembled and erected in as little as an hour, even by someone with no previous skill or experience. Epiphany also has plans for using the devices on a community scale, harvesting the solar energy gathered by 300 solar concentrating dishes, which is then stored in a 10,000 gallon thermal reservoir and used to continue the distillation process even after dark.

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