2020-093 – Solar Membrane Humidification – Dehumidification Module for Desalination and Air-Conditioning

Background Water scarcity remains one of the most pertinent issues for the world. Affecting a growing population of around 2.7 billion people worldwide, water supplies are estimated to reduce by 40% over the next decade. In addition, the demand for electricity has also been rising. Both issues strain environmental resources, resulting in an unsustainable situation in the long term. Recent efforts have attempted to combat water shortage by desalinating seawater, brackish groundwater, and industrial wastewater; unfortunately, the technologies used in these efforts (ie. reverse osmosis, multi-stage flash, and multi-effect distillation) are all energy-intensive and expensive. Primarily geared for industrial-scale operations near large water sources, these technologies are not necessarily suitable for smaller inland areas. To combat freshwater scarcity, there is a need for a small-scale, decentralized, and inexpensive desalination technique that can alleviate stress on the electrical grid, produce adequate water reserves, and provide chilled air. Technology Description A researcher at the University of New Mexico has developed a novel, fully-integrated, hybrid solar membrane distillation module that produces freshwater, electricity and chilled air. The modular and integrated invention uses a photovoltaic (PV) module to generate electricity, while using excess heat to drive a membrane desalination process, producing fresh drinking water. When chilled water is utilized as a source of coolant for the dehumidifier, conditioned air may be a by-product. The chilled air can easily be routed to a residence, providing a source of air conditioning for those in remote regions. The electricity-water-air conditioning trigeneration system alleviates strain on both the electrical grid and freshwater resources while remaining modular, decentralized, and inexpensive. Related to 2020-091. Andrew Roerick aroerick@innovations.unm.edu 505-277-0608

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