In a bid to help bring greater access to clean drinking water to the developing world, WaterStillar has created a solar-distillation system designed to produce clean drinking water from almost any source. Conceived as a cheap, efficient, modular system that can be scaled up to produce thousands of liters per day, Water Works is installed with no upfront costs and requires minimal maintenance or training to operate.
The WaterStillar Water Works was first conceived in 2004. Like nature's water cycle, it works by heating water until it evaporates and condenses to rid it of any contaminants.
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Water is gravity fed into the Works unit from a tank above, so that no pump is required. The unit is split vertically into a number of sections, with the water routed evenly into each.
The water routed to the lowest section of the unit is heated by vacuum tube solar collectors (thermal solar panels). As it heats up, it begins to evaporate and the resulting vapor rises to the top of the section, leaving any contaminants as run-off. The run-off is recirculated and diluted with fresh source water.
When the vapor hits the distillation panel at the top of its section, it condenses to form clean water droplets. Held on by surface tension, the droplets then run down the angled panel to an outlet ready for consumption. The residual heat from each lower layer used to heat the layer above. In this way, the system is able to be highly efficient.
A standard installation produces 2-300 liters of clean water per day, but can be scaled up to 10,000 liters.
The WaterStillar Works system uses no electricity or chemicals and produces no emissions. The clean water produced is said to have a neutral taste and be free of bacteria or viruses. Minerals can be added to the water after the process, but this is not built in.
On cloudy days, evaporation can still take place, but the system may work at a slower rate. It is also possible to use photovoltaic or mains power as an alternative way of to providing heat to the system.
WaterStillar says the Works system is manufactured using materials and parts with the maximum possible lifespan against the environmental impact of producing them. Correctly installed, it should last for 20 years and require very little maintenance. The system is remotely monitored to ensure the water is safe and local WaterStillar partners periodically check in and provide any required maintenance.
WaterStillar's plan is to offer the system at no up-front capital cost, with the customer paying a quarterly invoice based on a metered supply. The company says it has 80 Works systems awaiting dispatch from warehouses in Copenhagen and Mexico City and that it is currently seeking an NGO partner to help with distribution.
The video below explains the Water Works system.