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The windmill uses reverse-osmosis to produce enough water for 500 people a day. The device also stores 5 days worth of water, and has mechanical safeguards to protect it.  (Source: TU Delft)

The new windmill desalination system is purely mechanical... no electrical components necessary!  (Source: TU Delft)
New high-tech Windmill promises clean, fresh drinking water to many ocean-bordering villages, worldwide

The problematic lack of clean drinking water plagues many impoverished nations worldwide.  Many people do not realize that even nations bordering the sea often suffer water shortages and drink contaminated water.  A new high-tech windmill aims to provide relief for the third-world's water crisis. 

The new windmill can purify salt water purely by wind-driven mechanical energy.  The windmill was designed at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in The Netherlands.  It runs by using the wind's mechanical force to pump water, and utilizes a high tech reverse osmosis membrane.  The pumped water is pushed against this membrane at approximately 60 bar of pressure, and the salt is kept inside while pure water travels across the membrane.

The windmill setup is estimated to 5 to 10 m3 of fresh water a day, based on the device’s capacity at varying wind speeds.  Such output could provide a village of up to 500 people with drinking water.  Water reservoirs will store enough water for five days, in order to avoid water shortages during non-windy days.  The device also has three mechanical safeguards built in to protect it if the installation runs dry, if the installation experiences too low revolutions, or if the installation experiences too high revolutions.  No electrical controls are needed to accomplish these safeguards.

Previous windmill/reverse osmosis setups have been used, but never has the mechanical energy been used to directly fuel the process.  In previous setups, the windmill was used to generate electricity, which was then stored, and used to power a pump driving the reverse osmosis at a much lower efficiency. 

The windmill setup is currently near the A13 motorway outside Delft.  It will be transported to Curaçao for field testing using salt water later this week.  TU Delft hopes to offer similar devices to small villages in dry, isolated coastal areas. 

The fact that the purely mechanical process is superior in terms of efficiency and simplicity to the electro-mechanical system is a reminder that in this modern world of high tech electronics, sometimes the most "high tech" solution is one with no electronics at all.



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I must wonder...
By Souka on 3/4/2008 10:58:36 AM , Rating: 2
I must wonder...why this hasn't been done before. What new "breakthrough" or device allows direct mechanical pumping of an osmatic filtering device?

I do see the effeciencies of this type of setup vs. a typical windmill electrical generator setup...which then needs to use its electricty to drive a pump for the filter...this is really neat.

Also... how much will it save a village over the course of a year...5 years...10 years....compared to a conventional setup?




RE: I must wonder...
By cubeless on 3/4/2008 11:17:29 AM , Rating: 4
someone not interested in selling generators and batteries came up with this...

and the electromechanical system can be regulated better (can make the r/o membrane last longer) and smoothes out the ebb and flow of wind availability and force...

just another case where 'simpler and cheaper' can get the job done sufficiently...


RE: I must wonder...
By geddarkstorm on 3/4/2008 12:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
Electromechanical is not the end all. People sometimes forget that good engineering is most important. A good design can smooth out the ebb and flow passively without electronics--and it sounds like this thing does that, has greater efficiency than electronics, and passive safeguards instead of active electronic ones (passive is almost always better if it can be practically implemented). No troublesome batteries, wire/sensor corrosion, or electrical pump to break down on top of the actual windmill system itself.


"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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