MIT’s water recovery solution captures vapor for water supply
Millions of people around the world suffer from water insecurity. Experts are still working on a solution to provide the ever-expanding global population access to clean, drinkable water.
At MIT, engineers created a new system that could provide a low-cost source of drinking water for cities that lacks the infrastructure to give their resident clean water.
The system works to capture water vapor that was used for the cooling needs of electric power plants that use fossil fuels or nuclear power. In fact, a staggering 39 percent of all fresh water withdrawn from lakes, streams, rivers, and reservoirs in the United States is used for the cooling needs of these plants.
This new system has the ability to capture the water vapor so it can later be used for safe drinking water.
The system works by zapping the water vapor filled air with a beam of electrically charged particles called ions. When the ions hit the vapor, the droplets become electrically charged and can then be drawn toward a mesh of wires.
This mesh of wires, which resembles a metal window screen, collects the droplets and funnels them into a collecting pan where the water is stored for later processing.
This simple, ingenious method is the basis for a startup company called Infinite Cooling that recently won MIT’s $100k Entrepreneurship Competition.
The researchers and engineers behind the technology are working to further develop and implement their water recovery systems in industrial cooling towers.
According to the creators, using the recovery system on a typical 600-megawatt power plant could capture about 150 million gallons of water a year. As they continue to refine the device, it may even be able to capture more of the water output.