Water, our most essential resource, is depleting so rapidly that many areas of the world are taking drastic measures to try and fix this issue. The most recent water crisis occurred in California, where extreme restrictions have been placed on water usage. One of the ways to help this problem is to desalinate water. Only until recently, however, this method would have taken a substantial amount of energy to produce semi-filtered, purified water.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bureau of Reclamation decided to host a contest based on a way for “Securing Water for Food” to help those who have difficulty getting to a water source. The winning team at MIT, Global Engineering and Research Lab (GEAR), built a simple, sustainable, and cost-effective way to desalinate water. This method is actually fairly simple. First, the system works off of solar panels and batteries that charges the self-sustaining system throughout the day and night. The water is then desalinated through a process called electrodialysis. When salt is dissolved in water, it breaks into positively and negatively charged ions which can be extracted from the water with electrically charged membranes. The system has a small purification system that uses UV light to thoroughly clean the water. The ending result is pretty incredible with the amount of waste water being only 5% of the original amount put into the system. If this prototype is put to use, it could potentially irrigate a small farm or can provide clean water for day to day use for about 5,000 people.