San Diego State University - Minds That Move the World

Solar Energy

SDSU ME Senior Projects: Solar Water Distillation

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SPRING 2010 - FALL 2010


  • About 1 billion people do not have access to potable water
  • Make use of the most abundant naturally replenished energy source
  • Parabolic reflective troughs are fundamentally simple and effective devices for concentrating and collecting solar energy
  • System Overview

  • Contaminated water enters an absorber tube (Pyrex glass cover, copper heat pipe) oriented at the focus of a parabolic reflective trough.
  • Heated water exits absorber tube and enters distiller via spray nozzle to increase surface area per droplet to enhance evaporation.
  • Remaining hot water pools and distiller then allows for further evaporation.
  • Vapor is condensed on a cooled condensing surface via heat exchanger oriented on the top of the distiller
  • Heat exchanger uses cool contaminated water flow to cool the condensing surface and preheat the incoming water
  • Condensed potable water drains out of distiller via gravity into a collection tube