Solar Water Treatment-The Basics

July 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Solar Energy

Making use of solar energy to produce electricity gets a lot of attention. However, a lot of other applications for solar power also exist, such as solar water treatment.

A lot of countries worldwide have impure water that could cause typhus, diarrhea and other medical problems. This also holds true for particular American areas and various other developed countries. By building small devices which could get rid of this problem, a lot of money can be saved, thanks to modern technology. In fact, today, individuals are even capable of building their own.

Solar disinfection (SODIS) makes use of a basic principle, which is practically the same one that is used to pasteurize milk. The microorganisms that can cause health problems can only work within liquids in a particular temperature. Beyond this temperature, they could either get killed or simply deactivated. Bacteria, amoeba, and other small organisms that cause diseases could turn harmless due to this method.

Using this method can be very easy. A simple gallon of water placed in a plastic jug can be treated in just a couple of hours. The water just needs to be placed into a clear plastic bottle onto a dark background to absorb things better. Then, it should be put under the sun. On sunny days, this process could take less than three hours if the water used is very clear. If river water is used, it clearly can’t be treated like this.

Also, it is much better to use PET plastic instead of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which has a semi-blue cast. PVC plastic tends to keep out more UV, which is a form of light with high energy, and could thus reduce how effective this water treatment method works.

Other methods of solar power water treatment exist, as well.

For less than a couple of hundred dollars, solar water can still be built or bought that will treat quite a bit more water than jugs can. They are generally produced in the shape of a rectangular container a couple of inches deep with glass panels on the side and with a siphon hose. This container is typically covered in plastic since glass tends to keep out a lot of the UV.

As solar energy causes solar heating in the water, the moisture will evaporate up and condense on a much cooler glass on top. The siphon hose will draw off some of this water, which contains less compounds, organisms, and minerals, as well as chlorine.

The same principle is generally used in various desalination plants worldwide.

A lot of locales hardly have drinkable water. Instead, they have huge amounts of salt water that is readily available. Turning this salt water into potable water can be done with the use of the same evaporation technique on a much bigger scale than in desalination plants. Only small amounts of salt water can be drunk before it properly damages the kidneys. This is one reason why seawater has killed a lot of sailors who have tried to survive on the ocean.

Solar power radiation can easily destroy pathogens in the water and it can offer water that is drinkable in special applications. Basically, solar power can provide us with clean water, as well as pollution free solar power through electricity.