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Concentrated photovoltaics unit at IBM Research

Concentrated photovoltaics unit at IBM Research

The notion that science can produce rivers in the desert was once preposterous–but it’s no longer a crazy idea.  A collaboration between IBM researchers and scientists at Saudi Arabia’s national research organization gives promise of using one of the most plentiful resources in the kingdom, sunlight, to produce vast quantities of one of the least plentiful resources, drinkable water.

IBM and the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology have been working together for two years on a handful of  scientific research projects, and today they announced that they’re combining two of them in hopes of being able to produce large amounts of  water at more affordable prices. The plan is to combine new solar power technology with new water filtering technology to produce a breakthrough in solar-powered sea water desalination.

Saudi Arabia is already the leading producer of desalinated water in the world. Leaders at KACST want to not only bring down the cost of producing water for their own use but to develop an industry around the technology. “We want to create a cluster of companies in the kingdom, and take this technology and market it around the world,” says Dr. Turki Al Saud, vice president for research institutes, KACST. At some point, he says, the cost of desalination may be reduced to a point where its even economically feasible to produce water for agricultural purposes.

Today’s plants produce water for up to $1.50 per cubic meter. The goal here is to bring the price down significantly enough to radically change the water supply situation worldwide. An estimated 1.2 billion people in 40 countries do not have access to safe water.  “We can conceivably create a river of fresh water in countries that don’t have rivers–water for the masses at reasonable costs,” says Dr. Chandrasekhar (Spike) Narayan, who leads the Science and Technology Organization at IBM’s Almaden Research Center.

Two advances in science are at the core of today’s announcement. One of them emerged from nanotechnology, which IBM pioneered starting in the early 1980s. Modern desalination plants use the process of reverse osmosis to remove salt and other harmful chemicals from sea water. But chlorine breaks down the membranes that are used for filtration and, over time, the membranes are fouled by unwanted organic and biological molecules and particles. Researchers from IBM and KACST developed chlorine-resistant and fouling-resistant polymers that increase the permeability of the membranes without sacrificing selectivity.

The second key scientific advance comes in photovoltaics–a promising but prohibitively expensive method for converting the sun’s energy into electricity. Working together, IBM and KACST are developing a solar concentrator system by adapting IBM’s microprocessor cooling technology.That breakthrough combined others is aimed at bringing down the cost of photovoltaics for producing solar energy.

Saudi Arabia plans on build a plant using the new technology in the city of Al Khafji, which has a population of 100,000. The plant has a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters of water per day.  In a second phase, the kingdom plans on building plants with 10 times as much capacity, capable of serving a city of 1 million people. The ultimate goal is to produce all of the country’s drinking water using solar energy.

Researchers from IBM and KACST have been working closely together at the Almaden lab and in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has has the longest-running solar-energy generation plant in the world–built 30 years ago in collaboration with the US Department of Energy. Al Saud says he’s surprised at how quickly the scientists were able to produce results. For IBM’s Narayan, a key lesson was how important it is to have scientists working side by side, rather than just remotely. “Having people move back and forth is the single most important part of these big endeavors,” he says.

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This post was mentioned on Twitter by rucsb: Solar Power + Water Desalination = Rivers


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Although the goal of taking sea water and converting it to drinking water with cheap energy via solar power is a soon to be reality for us, the other surrounding problems with desalinization are formidable! Plant locations need to be located near the sea water and there intake sea water pipes kill large numbers of aquatic life. A USA 1999-2000 study revealed that an annual mortality of 78,000 fish and 55,000 invertebrates. Another big problem is producing a concentrated salt waste that needs to be dealt with.


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Concentrated solar thermal power combined with multi-stage flash desalination is an engineering miracle. When water can desalinate under its own power as it moves uphill, you know you have something special going on. This technology can solve all of the world’s water issues, we can even irrigate the deserts if we want to.


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Posted by: Wafeeq
 
October 7, 2010
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الى كل من يهمه الأمر:

أورد لكم تعليقى حيث لدى دراسة كاملة لأحد الحلول الأستراتيجية لمشكلة المياة فى مصر، الا :
(1) “وهو منخفض القطارة”،
(2) اجريت عدة تجارب، هذا الصيف، على تصميم جهاز لتحلية مياة البحر بدون استخدام ظاهرة التناضح العكسى وأعطت التجارب نتائج مشجعة جدا من حيث استهلاك الطاقة، حيث الطاقة المبذولة لا تتعدى طاقة مضخة التغذية + طاقة مروحة صغيرة فقط. مثال : لتحلية 240 م3 /س ، استهلاك الطاقة 0,077 ك.وات-س / م3 ، فى حين تحلية 1م3 بتقنية التناضح العكسى وفى أقل استهلاك للطاقة، لا تقل عن 3،5 ك.وات-س / م3
اذن هذه التقنية ستجعل تحلية مياة البحر فى متناول الزراعة والشرب والصناعة.
من مميزات هذه التقنية : انها صديقة للبيئة ، أى لا يوجد مواد كيماوية تدخل عملية التحلية كما فى التناضح العكسى، نسبة التحلية هي 100/100 ، لكن في التناضح العكسى هى 33/100 ، هذه التقنية هى الحل المناسب لملوحة الأبار بالصجراء المصرية حيث لا يوجد مياة فاقدة (Rejected Water).

Cette technique peut arriver à réduire la consommation jusqu’à 0,077 kWh / m3 (avec une pompe Calpeda NM4 125/315 CE-60, P2 = 18,5 kWh. pour 240 m3 /h. au 20 m., ceci nous donne une consommation en énergie électrique = 0,077 kW/m3 ).

منخفض القطارة ما له وما عليه
بواسطة: Dr. Sameh Fayek Metry

لقد درس هذا المشروع بدقة فى خمسينات القرن العشرين ولكن المشكل الرئيسى هو أن مياه البحر المالحة ستتسرب الي باطن الأرض وتملح الخزان الجوفي. وبناء علي هذه الدراسات الدقيقة من علمائنا فقد تحفظوا على هذا المشروع بسبب هذا المشكل الرئيسي.
الأن لدي دراسة كاملة لمعالجة هذا الوضع ولقد أرسلت هذه الدراسات الي جهات حكومية مصرية وغير حكومية مصرية وان شاء الله سيكون هناك خير وأمل كبير للأجيال القادمة باذن الله.
معلومات عن منخفض القطارة :
القناة الواجب حفرها = 56 كم فقط.
عمق المستوي الأول، وهو المهم والأكبر، يقبع علي مستوي -60 متر من مستوي سطح البحر.
أما المستوي الثالث والذي يقبع علي عمق -134 متر من سطح البحر، فمساحته صغيرة جدا بالنسبة بالنسبه للمستويين الأول، الأكبر علي الأطلاق، والثاني الذي يقبع على عمق -75 متر من سطح البحر.
المستوي الثالث يقبع أيضا في أقصي الطرف الجنوبي الغربي من المنخفض، والذي يصعب من عملية مد مواسير الي طرف المنخفض لتوليد الكهرباء. وأيضا مساحة المستوي الثالث صغيرة جدا، اذن ملئ المستوي الثالث بالمياه سيكون سريعا وستتوقف، في هذه الحالة، عمل محطة التوليد الكهربائية.
اذن أنسب مكان للمحطة الهيدروكهربائية هو الذي يقبع علي مستوي -60 متر من سطح البحر وعلي مسافة 56 كم من شاطئ البحر.
لحل معضلة : ’الملوحة – الطاقة’ موجود، وبكل تواضع، والحمد لله فى مشروعي هذا، وقد أجريت كل الحسابات والتجارب العلمية الخاصة بالمشروع.
لو سيادتكم أردتم التواصل فمرحبا.

لو أردتم ملخص كامل عن دراساتي لمشروع منخفض القطارة، أرجو مراسلتي وشكرا جزيلا لكم.
د. سامح فايق متري، باحث فى مجال تحلية المياة والطاقات الجديدة.


Posted by: Dr. Sameh Metry
 
September 22, 2010
1:15 pm

To use and support renewable energy technology in order to solve another problem is definitely the right way to go. It seems we might finally be moving in the right direction. I have often wondered what we are going to do about our dwindling water supply, and how places like Las Vegas and Dubai can even sleep at night hoarding fresh water. With this technology it seems they might be able to kill two birds with one stone.


Posted by: alternative energy jake
 
August 31, 2010
12:55 pm

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Posted by: ayan
 
July 26, 2010
7:38 pm

The idea of combining solar power and water desalination to produce rivers on the desert is really great. Imagine we could answer the crisis in water in many places. It’s nice to see countries joining together to help not only themselves but other countries as well. Using solar power will also help us to protect our environment.


Posted by: marcus the solar powered guy
 
July 24, 2010
12:00 pm

I think this is awesome…
We need more countries banning together to help each other in the quest to use and create natural energies to help save the planet…great info…


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May 21, 2010
8:14 am

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Posted by: Wouter
 
April 29, 2010
2:30 am

This is really great and the kind of things we need in the world, yet I have one question. Why must we attach monkiers like “Green” and “Smart” to this kind of stuff?

How about it just works !

I really do hate the whole “Smart” thing. It makes me wonder, smart as opposed to what? Also who decides what is smart ? It’s almost as if the idea to use this terminology was contrived by someone with a political agenda, so as to say look at me I am “Smart”, if you are not with me you are against smart !

Wait a min… Hidden political agenda mixed in with business we don’t know anyone like that do we ?

Oh that sounds an awful lot like that Cimate Deity Algore, you know the one who used phoney data to hoax everyone, yet framed the debate so that if you opposed his shinny new religion you were the one labled a denier, stupid and wanted to destroy the earth !


Posted by: William Ayers
 
April 26, 2010
5:57 pm

y does steve the scientist think this (Desalination) is a bad idea??


Posted by: paul savage
 
April 14, 2010
12:41 am

Desalination is a really bad idea. The fact that it’s mentioned on a blog with the title of this one boggles this scientist’s mind.


Posted by: Stephen
 
7 Trackbacks
 
November 27, 2010
3:21 pm
October 31, 2010
9:57 pm

[...] via Solar Power + Water Desalination = Rivers in the Desert | A Smarter Planet Blog. [...]


Posted by: Solar Power + Water Desalination = Rivers in the Desert « Innovapedia | Articles On Latest Innovations & Innovative Solutions
 
August 11, 2010
10:31 pm

[...] the technology looks to combine the factors of abundant sunlight and lack of fresh water to “produce rivers in the desert”. The work is a collaboration between IBM researchers and scientists at Saudi Arabia’s national [...]


Posted by: David Lock Associates » IBM Working On Creating Solar Powered Desalination Plants
 
April 8, 2010
10:52 am

[...] on thermal technology and reverse osmosis. The new plant aims to desalinate water more cheaply (blog, [...]


Posted by: IBM, Saudi Arabia research center eye solar-powered desalination plant - SmartPlanet
 
April 8, 2010
1:47 am

[...] research and development organization, today announced a research collaboration aimed at creating a water desalination plant powered by solar electricity, which could significantly reduce water and energy [...]


Posted by: IBM, KACST Unveil Research Initiative to Desalinate Seawater Using Solar Power | NEWS.GNOM.ES
 
April 7, 2010
2:46 pm

[...] and disadvantages — excess solar power and not enough water, to be more specific. Now IBM and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology are teaming up to solve the [...]


Posted by: IBM's New Solar Desalination Tech Could Create Rivers in the Desert | Inhabitat
 
April 5, 2010
6:42 pm

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