Researchers at MIT have developed a portable, solar-powered desalination system that's efficient even in overcast weather.
This sort of desalination system would be immensely helpful in disaster situations, like January's earthquake in Haiti. Two dozen of the units will fit onto one C-130 cargo airplane, and the prototype produces around 80 gallons of clean water per day. They estimate that the full-sized version will produce 1,000 gallons of water per day.
Desalination is nothing new, but it's normally an expensive, energy-intensive operation. These new systems from MIT change all that. Using reverse osmosis and a highly controlled power system, the device adapts as weather conditions change, so it can produce water even when it's cloudy.
This time-lapse video shows how the device adapts to changing weather conditions:
What you're seeing is the whole device on the top left and the tank filling with water on the top right. There's a rubber ducky in the tank, so you can see the water level rise. The readings at the bottom show the fluxuating levels of sunlight.
This system is perfect for disaster relief or even providing safe, clean water in areas with limited access.
Before they move from prototype to the final model, they're working on ensuring that anyone can use this device, not just a person with an engineering degree. They're also looking at ways to make it produce more water and make it more durable.
Image Credit: Photo via MIT