Print 48 comment(s) - last by jlips6.. on Mar 6 at 7:06 PM

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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Just salt?
By ICBM on 3/4/2008 10:59:29 AM , Rating: 2
Getting out salt is good, but what about bacteria and other harmful contaminants?

RE: Just salt?
By GaryJohnson on 3/4/2008 11:15:10 AM , Rating: 2
Just add chlorine?

RE: Just salt?
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 3/4/2008 11:35:31 AM , Rating: 3
Generally this is the process. There is a pre-treatment process usually using lower grade filters to protect the osmosis membrane, then a post treatment process to add chlorine and alkalinity to the potable output. The osmosis filter should be very good at removing almost all salt and inorganic material.

RE: Just salt?
By Oregonian2 on 3/4/2008 4:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
Know how long the membrane lasts? My mother lives near Vegas and her drinking water reverse osmosis thing requires attention from time to time, and although the salts in Lake Mead water is pretty high, I should image the ocean to be higher (or maybe not ;-).

RE: Just salt?
By Hare on 3/4/2008 12:19:51 PM , Rating: 5
Maybe the windmill could even run a small generator which would give enough electicity to power a UV-light array?

RE: Just salt?
By eye smite on 3/4/2008 12:40:01 PM , Rating: 3
After reading the comments on this I'm guessing there's some undesirables in salt water. I'm not versed on the contents of ocean water so I'm asking this question not to sound dumb, but rather curious. How much in the way of bacteria and fungus could survive in salt water? My impression was always that salt kills most everything or close to it in water, hence saltwater swimming pools.

RE: Just salt?
By Hare on 3/4/2008 1:20:30 PM , Rating: 3
My impression was always that salt kills most everything or close to it in water

You might want to try scuba diving ;)

RE: Just salt?
By TITAN1080 on 3/4/08, Rating: -1
RE: Just salt?
By kenji4life on 3/4/2008 3:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
Good eatin' too.

RE: Just salt?
By Micronite on 3/5/2008 12:52:44 AM , Rating: 2
While I can appreciate that this guy didn't really think about his comment before writing it, I'm still trying to figure out where your Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh comment came from.
Can you share a contextual reference that ties these individuals to the belief that there is no ocean life?

RE: Just salt?
By Pythias on 3/4/2008 6:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
Greenpeace says chlorine is EVIL!

RE: Just salt?
By rcc on 3/5/2008 1:13:45 PM , Rating: 3
Chlorine says Greenpeace is evil.

So, do you believe a chemical, or a terrorist organization? : )

RE: Just salt?
By jlips6 on 3/6/2008 7:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
greenpeace says a lot of things. Most of them are pointless because greenpeace has no science behind it. I'm all for some of what they want, but not for their reasons, and not because of what they say. I know we can't legally shut them down, but can we please just hire some snipers behind the scenes? it would save us all a lot of whining.

RE: Just salt?
By blueeyesm on 3/4/2008 11:24:21 AM , Rating: 2
The link explains how the water is purified.

RE: Just salt?
By Misty Dingos on 3/4/2008 12:02:24 PM , Rating: 3
Hey I am all for everyone having clean drinking water. But how long does the RO filter last? How expensive is it? If you live in a village that has four goats, two camels, a cow and some chickens I am thinking that you will be selling your kidneys on the black market to get replacement RO filters.

Cost and locally available supplies are some of the requirements of a 2004 initiative to provide arsenic free water to poor areas of the world. This program seemed to have their head wrapped around the idea that people in these villages don't have Blackberrys in their back pockets with contacts to the Culligan man.

What I am saying is that if they can't do it locally then you might be dooming these folks to a Fallout'esq senario. Got a waterchip anyone?

RE: Just salt?
By retrospooty on 3/4/2008 12:17:50 PM , Rating: 3
RO is really not that complicated, or difficult to replace parts. One would assume the same entity that supplies the windmill will supply replacement filters and membranes. You dont just give an area an RO windmill and tell them, "your on your own now, go figure out how to use it!".

RE: Just salt?
By Misty Dingos on 3/4/2008 2:47:35 PM , Rating: 1
Not to be too blunt but many of the clean safe water projects in the developing world have been just like that.

"Here it is. Good luck! It is all yours and by the way don't call us we already did our good deed for the day."

RE: Just salt?
By kenji4life on 3/4/2008 3:56:30 PM , Rating: 2
Not to be blunt but if volunteer workers dig a well in a third world country and get water running, and also (they usually do) does their part to educate the people about the well and how it should be used and cared for (and rationed), they sure as heck should then say "Here it is, good luck. It's all yours and doubt you'll be able to call us because obviously if we are digging you a well you aren't gonna bust out your cell phone to call us and complain because you don't have one.

It's one thing to stand aside while others volunteer to help the less fortunate in the world, but it's another thing to pretend they are doing a disservice by digging people wells.

I somehow doubt you'd ever put your life aside to help others before you'd criticize those who do.

RE: Just salt?
By kenji4life on 3/4/2008 4:00:43 PM , Rating: 2
Missed an end quote there..

BTW like I said, wasn't trying to be blunt. Maybe think about it before you say something next time. If you actually have first hand experience going overseas and digging a well and then leaving in rush and saying "don't call", that's your prerogative, or perhaps you lived in a third world country and had people come and dig you a well only to have it dry out, of course I seriously doubt the latter, but even if one of these two scenarios fits you, let it be known that you speak from experience.

Until then your comment just sounds ignorant.

RE: Just salt?
By bety on 3/4/2008 8:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
Actually you're the one who sounds ignorant, or at the very least, that you are having an emotional and illogical reaction.

Emotional, in that you are very angry about a important and relevant issue that was raised.

Illogical, in your assertions that he must be involved in the type of activity before he can comment about them. This, of course, is not rational on many levels. First, most of us(VERY FORTUNATELY) need not participate in an activity before evaluating it critically. Second, the issue of how much of his resources he wishes to invest in such endeavors is not relevant and simply an ad hominem attack.

Further, I'd suggest it is you who should do some research. History is rife with projects which failed because of these issues. In so doing,millions(billions?) have been wasted. Money which could have saved lives. Questions like his, are in fact, the FIRST questions we should be asking when it comes to practical application. Otherwise this is just lab work with no ecological application.

RE: Just salt?
By Rovemelt on 3/4/2008 12:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
Bacteria can't get through the membrane, and without food in the reservoir, the bacterial count should stay low.

RE: Just salt?
By Pandamonium on 3/4/2008 1:38:46 PM , Rating: 2
If the membrane is impermeable to small ions, I doubt bacteria can get past it.

RE: Just salt?
By eman7613 on 3/4/2008 3:30:56 PM , Rating: 2
easy, boil the watter, bacteria dies. same way you avoid malaria.

RE: Just salt?
By Bloodlust on 3/5/2008 10:32:58 AM , Rating: 2
Reverse Osmosis membrane cartridges remove viruses, bacteria, and other contaminants at around 99.9% efficiency. Only a small amount of chlorine or other disinfectant will need to be added afterwards to prevent growth of bateria and algae in the ditribution system. While costly to replace, these cartridges are becoming cheaper as more systems are built. Desalination of salt water is the future as surface and ground water supplies become scarce.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
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