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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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.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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