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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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what if...
By jlips6 on 3/4/2008 12:01:52 PM , Rating: 2
if you look at the picture, you find that they are using windmills that are quite small. If you hook this up to a modern windmill that can power 300 homes on a windy day... you would practically have to build a water tower by it. :0




RE: what if...
By Raidin on 3/5/2008 3:43:05 PM , Rating: 2
This is probably a cost issue. A windmill that can provide 500 villagers with water every day will cost substantially less. This also sounds like a per-village solution, I doubt it's intended target will ever need the ones you mentioned.

On top of that, this windmill is probably far easier to transport, build, and maintain. I'm sure it's tall enough to allow for mostly-windy conditions 24/7.


RE: what if...
By jlips6 on 3/6/2008 7:04:04 PM , Rating: 2
Just so you know, I'm not trying to say any of your points are not valid, because they are. But have you heard of the Bruce Penninsula? They have the kind of windmills I'm talking about. They are relatively inexpenxive (for a 130 ft. windmill :p) to build, fast to build, and produce amazing amounts of energy. they literally go up in less than a week. Farmers are building them in their fields. They're everywhere. They don't cost that much. I'm not talking about a windmill for 500 villagers, I'm talking about a windmill farm by the ocean for mass purification.


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