2 in 1: this device makes power and clean water

Sept 2019—Researchers in Saudi Arabia have developed a simple device with solar panels that also purifies water. At the right price-point, this could make a big difference in the underdeveloped world; taken to scale, it could be solar powered desalination.

According to the team’s study, published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, the device consists of a standard solar panel positioned horizontally with several tiers below it.

When salty or contaminated water runs from a container through those tiers, the waste heat from the solar cell warms the uppermost tier of water, causing it to evaporate through a membrane.

The now-clean water is then fed into a collection container, and the heat released during the evaporation process warms the next tier of water — and so on.