13.6 C
Munich
Saturday, February 22, 2020

A solar-powered system can turn salt water into fresh drinking water for 25,000 people per day. It could help address the world’s looming water crisis.

A new solar-powered device turns salt water into fresh drinking water.

People have been trying to turn seawater into drinking water for thousands of years, but the process is not usually energy-efficient or affordable.

At a newly constructed facility in Kenya, however, a nonprofit called GivePower is tackling that challenge using solar power.

The desalination system, which started operating in the coastal area of Kiunga in July 2018, can create 19,800 gallons (75,000 liters) of fresh drinking water each day enough for 25,000 people.

“You have to find a way to pull water out of the ocean in a scalable way, in a sustainable way,” Hayes Barnard, the president of GivePower, told Business Insider.

solar water farm Kenya
GivePowersolar water farm Kenya

Barnard hopes to scale the system up and open similar facilities around the globe to provide clean, fresh water for those who struggle to get it. Worldwide, one third of people don’t have access to safe drinking water, according to UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO). By 2025, half the world’s population is expected to live in water-stressed areas . Cities like Cape Town , South Africa;Chennai , India; and Beijing , China already face dwindling water supplies.

Limited water access keeps girls out of school

In 2013, Barnard started GivePower as a nonprofit branch of SolarCity, a solar-panel company that Elon Musk helped found in 2006. SolarCity merged with Tesla in 2016, but Barnard spun GivePower off as its own organization shortly before that.

READ ALSO:  International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Capacity Development Programme 2020 for young Professionals

The nonprofit mostly focuses on building solar-energy systems to provide electricity across the developing world. GivePower has installed solar grids in over 2,650 locations primarily schools, medical clinics, and villages across 17 countries, according to its website.

But regardless of whether or not a school has reliable electricity, limited access to fresh water keeps many girls out of the classroom. Women and children across Africa and Asia walk an average of 3.7 miles per day to fetch water, according to the UN Commission for Human Rights, and those treks take time and energy away from learning.

“So we thought the next thing would be to bring the water to them,” Barnard said. “That’s where this idea came from. Could we provide the most affordable, healthy, sustainable water? And at scale?”

Desalination technology is not new, but it uses high-power pumps and is notoriously energy-intensive (and therefore expensive). The solar-microgrid system that GivePower has created, however, can produce almost 20,000 gallons of fresh drinking water each day. It relies on Tesla batteries for energy storage, and it uses two parallel pumps so that the system can run at all times, even if one pump requires maintenance.

READ ALSO:  Fulbright Foreign Student Program 2020/2021 Scholarships for young South Africans

Locals pay about a quarter of one cent for every four cups (one liter) of water.

The world’s looming water crisis

READ ALSO:  Renewable energy can generate billions of dollars in health benefits, study finds
Salt water well kiunga kenya
GivePowerSalt water well kiunga kenya

As sea levels rise, scientists expect salt watertoinfiltrate more fresh water sources in coastal areas. That situation isn’t hypothetical in Kiunga: An ongoingdrought that began in 2014 has forced residents to drink from salt water wells, even though doing so can cause kidney failure, according to GivePower.

Kiunga resident Mohammed Atik said in a promotional video about the GivePower project that the “salt water from the wells are not treated,” which is why using it can lead to health issues.

“It was a really dire situation for this community,” Barnard said. “Children walking around the community with wounds lesions on their body from washing clothes in salt water.”

Woman washing clothes saltwater kiunga kenya
GivePowerWoman washing clothes saltwater kiunga kenya

Solar desalination around the globe

As GivePower’s first project, the Kiunga facility cost $500,000 to build and took a month to construct. The organization hopes to generate $100,000 per year from the system, and use that to fund facilities in other places. Barnard’s goal is to cut the construction cost down to $100,000 per plant in the future.

“We hope that one of these systems funds another additional sister system every five years,” he said.

For now, the funding has come from corporate and private donations, along with a few corporate grants, including a $250,000 grant from Bank of America last year.

water solar desalination kiunga kenya
GivePowerwater solar desalination kiunga kenya

In the future, Barnard envisions smaller, modular-style solar desalination units that would use a single pump and a 15-kilowatt solar grid with three Tesla batteries. GivePower could combine the systems “like Legos” to scale up, Barnard said.

READ ALSO:  United Nations Information Service’s 58th Graduate Study Programme 2020

His team is already working on its next projects, in Haiti’s Isle de la Gonve and Mombasa, Kenya. Barnard wants those facilities to be up and running by the end of the year. GivePower is also scouting a site in Colombia for a similar future project.

drinking clean water kiunga kenya
GivePowerdrinking clean water kiunga kenya

In all of these places, one of GivePower’s major challenges is establishing systems for distributing the fresh water that the plants create. Barnard hopes local people and organizations at each site will volunteer to distribute water, and nearby hospitals, schools, or hotels will pay to take several thousand liters each day. He also hopes some business-minded locals will buy the water and resell it in other towns.

READ ALSO:  York University Science Scholars Award 2020/2021

“I want to create a system of water women, like there were milkmen in the 1960s,” Barnard said.”It sounds funny, but water is a women’s issue.”

He added that the desalination plant has already spurred new economic activity in Kiunga. A group of women there started a freshwater clothes-washing business, Barnard said, and one man fills a tank with the water and drives it to nearby communities to sell.

“How awesome would it be if the women could make money off this water and their daughters are sitting in the classroom?” Barnard said.

SOURCE: BUSINESS INSIDER USA

Related articles

Leave a Reply

Latest article

Twelve African EdTech Companies Named as First Fellows at Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT

The Mastercard Foundation Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) has announced the first cohort of 12 EdTech Fellows,...

BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards 2020 (400,000 euros prize)

Application Deadline: June 30th 2020 The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards recognize fundamental contributions in a broad array of areas of scientific knowledge, technology, humanities and...
READ ALSO:  Onecoin Leaders Indicted in the U.S. for Operating 'Fraudulent Pyramid Scheme'

Brooklyn Entrepreneur Launches Black-Owned Champagne Brand

Marvina Robinson, an entrepreneur from Brooklyn, has been passionate about bubbly and sparkling wines since her college days. Now, she has turned her passion...

Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) Summer School 2020 for Young African Scientists (Fully Funded)

Application Deadline::Friday, February 28, 2020 The Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development...

King Baudouin African Development Prize 2020

The Prize endeavours to reward innovative initiatives of Africans with a longer term vision and impact proven track record in improving the quality of...

Popular Posts

He Wanted to be A Musician or Doctor but He is now Ghana’s Best Blogger, Meet Ameyaw Kissi Debrah!

The world is going digital and those who master the digital way of doing things are surely ahead. Mark Zuckerberg is one of the...

He is championing the fight against Revenge Porn in Ghana. Meet the ‘Chief Blogger’, Barimah Amoaning Samuel.

Revenge porn is the revealing of sexually explicit images or videos of a person posted on the Internet, typically by a former sexual partner, without the consent of the subject and in order to cause them distress or embarrassment. It may refer to all sexually explicit videos and images of a person by former partner, old friend, hacker, blackmailer or whoever for whatever motive. One man has decided to stand in the gap and end the act and his name is Barimah Amoaning Samuel.

From A Broken Home to Being the Inspiration of Many in Nandom; Meet Jacob Kuutuome.

Jacob Kuutuome was born to Mr. and Mrs. Kuutuome Tang and Marciana respectively in Kumasi and spent all his early childhood development and education...

Meet Mojolaoluwa Olaifa, The Young Law Graduate Championing Peace in Nigeria.

Just like Mirabelle Morah and Feyisayo Adanlawo, Mojola is also a young Nigerian making waves in her small corner to make sure peace becomes a...

Meet the Award Winning Health Journalist Providing Free Hygiene Kits for Girls in Nigeria

When Yecenu saw school girls who couldn't afford sanitary towels, she decided to find a solution and that solution is the reason why Wundef.com considers her a game changer. Today we are looking at the motivation and works of a young game changer in Africa's most populous country, Nigeria. I believe her story will inspire you to do greater things for your community, country and Africa as a whole.