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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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By cubeless on 3/4/2008 11:08:37 AM , Rating: 2
they'll still need a chlorine drip treatment for bacteria, etc, most likely to be up to '1st world' standards, but lots of 3rd world drink from 'unsanitized' sources... but just getting the water is most of the battle...

and the cost is less than going electric in the long run... fewer pieces = less cost... and without the generator and batteries there's less chance the thing will be stolen to power someone's lights and bigscreen...

the problem is the backwash of the hypersalty water and the protection/replacement of the r/o membrane... but these issues are the same no matter what method for moving the water is...

By Lightning III on 3/4/2008 11:51:29 AM , Rating: 2
low power uv flouresents might be a better choice for third world and green minded types.

By cubeless on 3/4/2008 12:09:16 PM , Rating: 4
same problem with complexity and stealability... u need the simplest, most single purpose methods...

'green' is only an issue some ways down the road from 'alive'... eventually the well to do may start to understand this...

By Ringold on 3/4/2008 7:52:10 PM , Rating: 3
eventually the well to do may start to understand this...

Don't count on it. :P

In the end, to some people, since humanity < polar bears, therefore, CO2 > extreme poverty.

By rcc on 3/5/2008 1:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
the problem is the backwash of the hypersalty water

I'm not sure this is really a problem, but if it is, they could flush it to drying trays and provide salt for the village as well.

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