Environment

SAROS is a wave-powered off-grid desalination system

SAROS is a wave-powered off-gr...
The SAROS wave-powered desalination system in action
The SAROS wave-powered desalination system in action
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The first prototype of the SAROS wave-powered desalination system
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The first prototype of the SAROS wave-powered desalination system
Aerial photo of a SAROS wave-powered desalination system deployed near a pier
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Aerial photo of a SAROS wave-powered desalination system deployed near a pier
Two generations of the SAROS wave-powered desalination system prototype
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Two generations of the SAROS wave-powered desalination system prototype
The SAROS wave-powered desalination system is designed to be portable
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The SAROS wave-powered desalination system is designed to be portable
The buoy for the SAROS wave-powered desalination system under construction
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The buoy for the SAROS wave-powered desalination system under construction
the SAROS wave-powered desalination system is designed to be easy to deploy
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the SAROS wave-powered desalination system is designed to be easy to deploy
The SAROS wave-powered desalination system is designed to be easy to transport
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The SAROS wave-powered desalination system is designed to be easy to transport
The SAROS wave-powered desalination system on the beach
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The SAROS wave-powered desalination system on the beach
The SAROS wave-powered desalination system in action
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The SAROS wave-powered desalination system in action
Deploying the SAROS wave-powered desalination system
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Deploying the SAROS wave-powered desalination system
The SAROS wave-powered desalination system in action
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The SAROS wave-powered desalination system in action

An American startup is looking to turn seawater into drinking water using only the motion of the ocean. EcoH20 Innovations is currently working with the second prototype of its Swell Actuated Reverse Osmosis System (SAROS), a compact, portable and energy independent floating desalination system.

SAROS was designed with island communities in mind, where drinking water can be scarce and traditional desalination can be expensive, requiring burning fossil fuels that contribute to rising sea levels threatening many such communities. The relatively simple buoy-based system harnesses the energy of swelling and falling seas to pump sea water through a reverse osmosis system that makes it drinkable and then back to shore for storage via a hose.

"SAROS is different because, by using it, we can cut the cost currently associated withproducing fresh water in half," said SAROS' Director of Research & Development ChrisMatthews.

Two generations of the SAROS wave-powered desalination system prototype
Two generations of the SAROS wave-powered desalination system prototype

The SAROS team built a large, clunky-looking prototype to prove the concept works and then refined it into a second version that uses smaller and fewer components and is easier to transport and setup. Its creators say it can generate over 3,000 g (11,356 l) of drinking water from the ocean each day and can even desalinate water when the sea is relatively calm.

EcoH20 just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to help launch pilot projects that will see SAROS go in to service in Puerto Rico and Haiti.

SAROS - Turning Waves into Fresh Water

The idea isn't totally new, however. A few years ago we covered the Canadian Odyssée desalinator project, which also attempted to further its research into a similar independent, wave-based system via a crowdfunding campaign. That effort fell well short of its funding goal and the project's website is now offline.

While the concepts seem very similar, it's notable that SAROS seems to be much further along in both technical and business development as it launches its crowdfunding campaign than Odyssée was.

the SAROS wave-powered desalination system is designed to be easy to deploy
the SAROS wave-powered desalination system is designed to be easy to deploy

EcoH2O says it is focusing on making a simple system with the primary mission of supplying drinking water rather than other things like electricity. Although the company does note that SAROS could also be configured to provide power, autonomously pump water to clean up oil spills and even filter plastic from the ocean.

The company has already partnered with corporate names like Autodesk and organizations working on the issue of water scarcity that seem to indicate it is moving forward. So far, the Indiegogo has already raised as much as the Odyssée crowdfunding campaign did in total and there's still a month left for SAROS to hit its $25,000 goal

As always, approach this and every crowdfunding campaign with a note of caution and do your own due diligence before contributing.

Sources: EcoH2O, Indiegogo

9 comments
GWA111
The trouble with all desalination units is the brine waste. If you had 50 of these dotted along a coastline for a number of years you would eventually start to alter salinity levels. Land based and use the brine as a way of farming table salt. The other thing is wave powered or not, R/O membranes do not last very long and need replacing at regular intervals - who will be doing this? It can also be done only at the mercy of the weather.
splatman
@GWA111 Did you try to do some sums before you commented? Brine waste? So lets say these things are 100 m apart. Can we agree that their effect reaches 100m out to sea? Can we agree the water is maybe 5 m deep. So the catchment of the thingy is 100x100x5m. That is 50,000 tons of water. Assume it gets replenished daily through water movement. So I extract 11,000 litres, or 11 tones, from 50,000 tons of seawater. That's 11/50,000 = 0.02%. So the machine will increase the salt concentration of that water by 0.02%. Even if my estimate is out by two orders of magnitude, the figure is 0.2%. The concentration will increase from 3.5% (I believe, typical for seawater) to, wait for it, 3.507% Hardly an ecological disaster! It's exactly what happens when the sea water evaporates and makes rain. The only place it might need a second thought is in a closed body of water (think Dead Sea), or one where there is very little exchange with the outside world.
WendellNichols
3000g approximates to 11000 l? I'm puzzled by that.
Bob Flint
So how does the user get to the fresh water, is it stored onboard, or a tube umbilical style pumped to shore? Damage, theft, and collision are all real dangers to consider to name just a few..
Username
One liter of water weighs one kilogram. So " 3,000 g (11,356 l)" couldn't be less accurate.
PlanetPapi
Wonderful concept. I hope it works as they imagined. Most desalination ideas are hit or miss. Is this the first time anyone figured out using just wave power to create drinkable water? "Rain Maker" by Billions in change is another one I have heard of . Not sure how it works but here is the link. http://billionsinchange.com/solutions/rain-maker/
Dangens
Is this really such a novel idea? I believe Carnegie Wave Energy has been busy with the same idea for at least a decade...
yawood
@Bob Flint. They do say "then back to shore for storage via a hose" or did they add that after reading your comment?
NeilDennis
The 3,000 g must be US gallons not grams.