Elemental Water Makers implements solar desalination in Virgin Islands

Elemental Water Makers implements solar desalination in Virgin Islands

Dutch clean tech company from the RE-Desalination Action Group, Elemental Water Makers, has implemented a new renewable energy driven desalination solution in the Virgin islands. The solution provides 3300 gallons of fresh water from seawater on a daily basis since last week, while using only power from the sun. Elemental Water Makers therewith provides an alternative for a reliable supply of fresh water at lower costs, while simultaneously avoiding carbon dioxide emissions. Through a real-time monitoring portal, the water production and solar energy used on the Virgin Islands can be watched online from anywhere around the world.

The Virgin Islands are the first to use a new renewable energy driven desalination solution that turns seawater into fresh water, developed by Dutch clean tech company Elemental Water Makers, a member of the RE-Desalination Action Group of the EIP-Water. The solution provides 3300 gallons of fresh water from seawater on a daily basis since last week, while using only power from the sun. Elemental Water Makers therewith provides an alternative for a reliable supply of fresh water at lower costs, while simultaneously avoiding carbon dioxide emissions. Through a real-time monitoring portal, the water production and solar energy used on the Virgin Islands can be watched online from anywhere around the world. 

Not easy

Increasing fresh water scarcity and limited availability of fossil fuels demand new solutions using sustainable energy. “With unlimited availability of seawater and increasing renewable energy opportunities, desalination using renewable energy seems like the obvious solution”, says managing director Sid Vollebregt. “But there were barriers for implementation of these methods until now.”

New technology

“The commonly used and most energy efficient technology of reverse osmosis is designed for constant operation, while renewable energies such as the sun and wind fluctuate over time. As a result of the required use of batteries or operating discontinuously, existing alternatives are expensive. Elemental Water Makers solves this problem”, explains Vollebregt.

Renewable energy source(s)

The young company from the Netherlands, founded by two engineers from the Technical University of Delft and part of incubator YES!Delft, constantly converts seawater using only fluctuating renewable energy source(s). “A constant reverse osmosis process is enabled by using the power of gravity through a salt water buffer installed at a higher level of elevation”, says Vollebregt. “The pressurized seawater directly flows to the reverse osmosis membranes. The elevation level required is greatly reduced by re-using the excess pressure in the salt water flow, making use of a mechanical form of energy recovery.” The working principle is further explained on their website, www.elementalwatermakers.com.

Sustainable fresh water supply

Significant costs savings are realized by avoiding electricity consumption, batteries, energy conversion losses and frequent maintenance. The solution is scalable from a few thousand gallons of water per day up to a scale of a million. Elemental Water Makers expects many after-sales at resorts and private home-owners in the region and will be talking to governments to enable a sustainable fresh water supply of entire islands.

 

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