Economical Self-Powered Portable Clean Energy Desalination System

Period of Performance: 06/13/2016 - 03/12/2017


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

ITN Energy Systems, Inc.
8130 Shaffer Parkway Array
Littleton, CO 80127
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

The Ohio State University
1330 Kinnear Road
Columbus, OH 43212
Institution POC


Many communities face water scarcity as a fundamental challenge to their economic and social development. Seawater is an abundant source which can be reached by most of the countries in the world. In order to utilize seawater as potable water, it is required to remove the high salinity. Desalination technologies are intended for the removal of dissolved salts that cannot be removed by conventional treatment processes, but existing commercial techniques for seawater desalination suffer from large energy consumption and high costs making them too expensive for widespread use. General statement of how this problem is being addressed: Reverse osmosis is proved to be the most reliable, cost effective, and energy efficient in producing fresh water compared to other desalination technologies. It is the fastest-growing desalination technology with a greater number of installations around the world. The Department of Energy is highly interested in installing such seawater desalination systems at locations which are at remote locations and far away from main transportation routes. To meet this challenge advanced membranes with higher flux and lower fouling will be integrated with a proven autonomous photovoltaic reverse osmosis system architecture initially developed for brackish water sources and upgraded to produce drinking water from seawater sources--up to 35,000 parts per million total dissolved solids. What is to be done in Phase I: The proposed effort will demonstrate a low-cost, self-powered, zero emissions portable water desalination system for economically producing drinking water from seawater. The system uses an integrated solar panel and battery system along with a reverse osmosis filtration system to provide a portable drinking water solution for remote locations, without any additional fuel requirement. The bench-scale reverse osmosis filter system will be, scalable to a full capacity field deployable system in Phase II, capable of providing >98% selectivity at 1000 gallons per day (average 6 hours solar energy), providing drinking water from seawater source with up to 35,000 parts per million total dissolved solids. Commercial applications and other benefits: An autonomous photovoltaic reverse osmosis drinking water purification system would benefit greatly from the development of low-cost, high flux, non-fouling reverse osmosis membrane, which would result in more efficient and lower cost production of large quantities of drinking-quality water. Membrane modules can simultaneously remove contaminants such as organic and inorganic salts, natural organic matter and infectious species. Reverse osmosis membrane filtration has added benefits such as easy operation, ability to consistently produce purified water independent of the feed seawater quality and smaller foot print. Key Words: Seawater Desalination, Membranes, Reverse Osmosis, Solar Power, Photovoltaic Module, Water Flux, Composite Membrane, Separation Technology