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SOLAR DESALINATION

WATER DESALINATION TECHNOLOGY


Nature is carrying out the process of water desalination
since ages.
Oceanic water due to solar heating converts into vapours
and pours down as precipitation on earth in the form of
fresh water.
Water is the most needed substance on the earth for
sustenance of life.
Due to rapid expansion of population, accelerated industrial
growth and enhanced agricultural production, there is ever
increasing demand for fresh water.
Demand of fresh water (potable water) has increased from
15-20 litres/person/day to 75-100 litres/person/day,
The ocean covers 71 recent of the earth's surface-140
million square miles with a volume of 330 million cubic
miles and has an average salt content of 35,000 ppm.
Brackish/saline water is strictly defined as the water with
less dissolved salts than sea water but more than 500 ppm.
SOLAR DESALINATION TECHNIQUES
Potable Water Less than 550 ppm
Requirement Domestic, Industries and
Agriculture
Sources of Potable
Water
Rivers, Lakes, Ponds, Wells etc.
Demand of Potable
Water
15-25 litres / person / day
(OLD)
100-125 litres / person / day
(NEW)
Underground
Saline Water
2,000 2,500 ppm
Sea Water 30,000 50,000 ppm
WATER DESALINATION TECHNOLOGY
Potable water (fresh water) suitable for human
consumption should not contain dissolved salts
more than 500 ppm.
For agricultural purposes, water containing salt
content of 1000 ppm is considered as the upper
limit.
Potable water is required for domestic,
agriculture and industries.
Some applications in industries like cooling
purposes, sea water is feasible despite the
corrosion problems while other industries use
higher quality water than is acceptable for
drinking water. Modern steam power generation
plant need water with less than 10 ppm.
Potable/fresh water is available from rivers,
lakes, ponds, wells, etc.
Underground saline/brackish water contains
dissolved salts of about 2,000-2,500 ppm.
METHODS OF CONVERTING BRACKISH
WATER INTO POTABLE WATER
DESALINATION: The saline water is evaporated using
thermal energy and the resulting steam is collected and
condensed as final product.
VAPOR COMPRESSION: Here water vapour from boiling
water is compressed adiabatically and vapour gets
superheated. The superheated vapor is first cooled to
saturation temperature and then condensed at constant
pressure. This process is derived by mechanical energy.
REVERSE OSMOSIS: Here saline water is pushed at high
pressure through special membranes allowing water
molecules pass selectively and not the dissolved salts.
ELECTRODIALYSIS: Here a pair of special membranes,
perpendicular to which there is an electric field are used
and water is passed through them. Water does not pass
through the membranes while dissolved salts pass
selectively.
In distillation; thermal energy is used while in vapour
compression, reverse osmosis, electrodialysis, etc. some
mechanical and electrical energy is used.
Solar Distillation
Passive Distillation Active
Distillation
Conventiona
l Solar Still
Multi-effect
Solar Still
New Design
Solar Still
Inclined
Solar Still
High Temp
Distillation
Nocturnal
Distillation
With
Reflector
With
Condenser
Distillation
with
collector
panel
Auxiliary
heating
distillation
Life raft Spherical
Tubular Regeneration
Classification of Solar Distillation Systems
Multieffect Solar Still
Diffusion
Still
Chimney
Type Still
Multi effect
Basin Still
Heated Head
Solar Still
Double Basin
Solar Still
Multiple Basin
Solar Still
Inclined Solar Still
Wick Solar
Still
Single Wick
Solar Still
Multiple effect
tilted tray Solar
Still
Basin Solar Still
Multiple Wick
Solar Still
Tilted Tray /
stepped Solar
Still
METHODS OF PURIFICATION OF WATER
Types of Solar Still
Single Effect Basin Solar Still
Tilted Tray Solar Still
Multibasin Stepped Solar Still
Regeneration Inclined Step Solar Still
Wick Type Solar Still
Multiple Effect Diffusion Solar Still
Chimney Type Solar Still
Multi-Tray Multiple Effect Solar Still
Double Basin Solar Still
Humidification Dumidification Distiller
Multistage Flash Distiller
Solar Assisted wiped film Multistage Flash
Distiller
MAIN TECHNIQUES FOR DISTILLATION
a) Flash Distillation
b) Vapor Compression Process.
c) Electrodialysis
d) Reverse Osmosis.
e) Solar Distillation.

GUIDELINES
1. Quantity of Fresh Water Required and its End Use.
2. Available Water Sources, such as Sea, Ponds, Wells,
Swamps etc.
3. Proximity to nearest Fresh Water Sources.
4. Availability of Electric Power at the Site or Closeby.
5. Cost of Supplying Fresh Water by Various Methods.
6. Cost and Availability of Labor in the Region.
7. Maintenance and Daily Operational Requirements.
8. Life Span of the Water Supply System.
9. Economic Value of the Region.
Schematic of basin-type solar still
COMPONENTS OF SINGLE
EFFECT SOLAR STILL
1. Basin
2. Black Liner
3. Transparent Cover
4. Condensate Channel
5. Sealant
6. Insulation
7. Supply and Delivery System
MATERIALS FOR SOLAR STILLS
GLAZING: Should have high transmittance for solar radiation,
opaque to thermal radiation, resistance to abrasion, longlife,
low cost, high wettability for water, lightweight, easy to
handle and apply, and universal availability. Materials used
are: glass or treated plastic.
LINER: Should absorb more solar radiation, should be
durable, should be water tight, easily cleanable, low cost, and
should be able to withstand temperature around 100 Deg C.
Materials used are: asphalt matt, black butyl rubber, black
polyethylene etc.
SEALANT: Should remain resilient at very low temperatures,
low cost, durable and easily applicable. Materials used are:
putty, tars, tapes silicon, sealant.
BASIN TRAY: Should have longlife, high resistance to
corrosion and low cost. Materials used are: wood, galvanized
iron, steel, aluminium, asbestos cement, masonary bricks,
concrete, etc.
CONDENSATE CHANNEL: Materials used are: aluminium,
galvanized iron, concrete, plastic material, etc.
BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF A GOOD
SOLAR STILL
Be easily assembled in the field,'
Be constructed with locally available materials,
Be light weight for ease of handling and
transportation,
Have an effective life of 10 to 20 Yrs.
No requirement of any external power sources,
Can also serve as a rainfall catchment surface,
Is able to withstand prevailing winds,
Materials used should not contaminate the
distillate,
Meet standard civil and structural engineering
standards, and,
Should be low in cost.
Cross section of some typical basin type solar still. (a) Solar still with double
sloped symmetrical with continuous basin, (b) Solar still with double sloped
symmetrical with basin divided into two bays, (c) Solar still with single slope
and continuous basin, (d) Solar still with unsymmetrical double sloped and
divided basin, (e) U-trough type solar still, (f) Solar still with plastic inflated
cover, (g) Solar still with stretched plastic film with divided basin.
Schematic of shallow basin type solar still
SOLAR STILL OUTPUT DEPENDS
ON MANY PARAMETERS
1. Climatic Parameters
I. Solar Radiation
II. Ambient Temperature
III. Wind Speed
IV. Outside Humidity
V. Sky Conditions

2. Design Parameters
I. Single slope or double slope
II. Glazing material
III. Water depth in Basin
IV. Bottom insulation
V. Orientation of still
VI. Inclination of glazing
VII. Spacing between water and glazing
VIII.Type of solar still
3. Operational parameters
I. Water Depth
II. Preheating of Water
III. Colouring of Water
IV. Salinity of Water
V. Rate of Algae Growth
VI. Input Water supply arrangement
(continuously or in batches)
SOLAR STILL OUTPUT DEPENDS ON
MANY PARAMETERS Contd
Single slope experimental solar still
Double sloped experimental solar still
EXPERIMENTS ON SOLAR STILLS
(CLIMATIC PARAMETERS)
The effect of climatic parameters on the still output was
seen by using two small, single sloped solar stills, each with
basin area equal to 0.58 sq.m,
These two solar stills have identical design features except
one with sawdust insulation (2.5 cm) in the bottom and
second without any insulation. Hourly output and climatic
parameters were determined for one complete year.
The insulated still gave 8 percent higher output compared
to uninsulated solar still.
The maximum output was 5.271 litres/Sq.m. day.
The still output increased from 1.76 liters/m
2
day at 16.74
MJ/m
2
day to 5.11 litres/m
2
day at 27.08 MJ/m
2
day.
An increase in still output was observed with increase in
ambient temperature. The increase in output is about 0.87
litres/m
2
day for each 10C rise in ambient temperature.
Variation of solar still output and solar insolation for
different weeks of the year
Relationship between still output and daily solar insolation
EFFECT OF DESIGN PARAMETERS
The effect of design variables was studied on four double
sloped permanent type solar stills with dimensions of 245 x
125 x 15 cm i.e. with a basin area of 3.0 m
2
.
Still No. 1 does not contain any bottom insulation while still
nos. 2,3 and 4 each contained 2.5 cm thick sawdust
insulation.
The glass angles for stills 1,2,3 and 4 are 20,30,30 and 40
degrees from horizontal respectively.
Each of the still was filled daily with about 5 cm of water in
the morning and hourly values of distillate was collected
and measured.
Still No.2 with base insulation has given a higher output.
The average increase is 7 percent.
By comparing stills 2-4, the still with lowest glass angle
gave highest output.
By comparing outputs of stills l and 3, it was observed that
still 1 with 20 degree glass inclination and without base
insulation, performs better than still 3 with 30 degree glass
inclination and with base insulation.
Both the channels of each of the still collect almost equal
amount of distillate.
EFFECT OF OPERATIONAL PARAMETERS
1. The effect of operational parameters was studied
on five single sloped solar stills each with a basin
area of 0.58 Sq.m. All are of identical
construction except still 5 had 5 cm thick sawdust
insulation.
2. The effect of water depth was studied by filing
stills with 2.0, 4.0,6.0,8.0 cm water for
uninsulated stills and 4.0 cm for insulated still.
3. Higher distillate output was observed with lower
water depth.
4. The insulated still gave higher output.
5. The effect of dye on water output was also
studied. The output got increased by colouring
the water.
6. The effect of use of waste heat for heating the
saline water in still was also studied. One still was
filled with water at 30C and the other with water
at 45C. Higher output was observed in a still
using water at higher temperature.
Different empirical correlations for daily yield
from a solar still
S.N. Performance Relations (l/m
2
d) References
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Mw = 0.216 + 0.00385 I(t)
Mw = 0.0172 I(t) 1.1668
Mw = 0.000369 I(t)
1.64
Mw = 4.132 x 10
-3
I(t) [1+{I(t) / 110}]
Mw = 1.18 x 10
-4
I(t)
1.64
Mw = 0.0086 I(t) + 0.0636Ta+0.0633V
Mw = 0.013 I(t) 3.5969
Mw = 0.1323 W
0.3
(T
in
T
a
) 1060
Mw = 0.00354 I(t)
Mw = 2.295 x 10
-4
I(t) 0.0139
T
a
+0.0185V 0.433
Grunne et al (1962)
Lawand & Boputiere
(1970)
Battele (1965)
Zaki et al (1983)
Madani and Zaki
(1989)
Garg and Mann (1976)
Garg and Mann (1976)
Malik et al (1982)
Maum et al (1970)
Natu et al (1979)
Where
I = Solar Intensity W/m
2
; t= time, s; m
w
= Daily Distillate Output, kg/m
2
;
T = Temperature, C; W = Humidity Ratio; V = Wind Speed (m/s)
PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED WITH PLASTIC COVERS
Fragility and short service life of plastic sheets.
Leakage of water vapor and the condensate.
Over-heating, and hence melting, of the plastic
bottom of the still due to the development of dry
spots in course of time. In the extreme case the
black polyethylene sheets used as the basin liner
may get heated beyond its melting point.
The plastic cover surface does not get wetted and
this leads to reduced transmission of incoming
solar energy and also to dripping of distilled
water back into the brine liquid.
Susceptibility to damage by wind and other
elements of nature.
Occasional unforeseen mixing of brine and
distilled water in some of the designs.
Energy transfer in a single effect basin
solar still
Major heat fluxes for a solar still
The performance of solar still can be predicted by writing energy
balance equations on various components of the still. A steady
state analysis of solar still is described here.
Referring to the figure the instantaneous heat balance equation
on basin water can be written as :
dt
dT
C q q q q I
w
w b c r e w
+ + + + = t o
PERFORMANCE PREDICTION OF
BASIN-TYPE SOLAR STILL
(1)
Where I is the solar radiation on horizontal surface; o
w
is
absorptivity of water and basin liner, t is transmittance of glass
cover; q
e
, q
r
, q
c
are the evaporative, radiative and convective
heat losses from water to the transparent cover respectively; q
b

is the conductive heat loss from water basin; C
w
is heat capacity
of water and basin; T
w
is water temperature; and t is the time.
Similarly the instantaneous heat balance equation on glass
cover will be :
c r e g
g
g ga
q q q I
dt
dT
c q + + + = + o
.(2)
Where q
ga
(=q
ca
+ q
m
) is the heat loss from cover to atmosphere,
C
g
is the heat capacity of glass cover, T
g
is glass temperature, o
g

is the absorptivity of glass cover, q
ca
is the heat loss by
convection from cover to atmosphere, and q
ra
is heat loss by
radiation from cover to atmosphere.
Now the heat balance equation on the still is :
dt
dT
C
dt
dT
C q q q I I
w
w
g
g b ra ca g w
+ + + + = + o t o
.(3)
The parameters like (1 - o
g
- t) I and (I-o
w
) t I are not included in
equations since these do not add to evaporation or condensation
of water.
The heat transfer by radiation q
r
from water surface
to glass cover can be calculated from the equation
) (
4 4
g w r
T T F q = o
(4)
Where F is the shape factor which depends on the
geometry and the emissivities of water and glass
cover, and o is the Stefan Boltzmann constant. For
the basin type solar still and for low tilt angles of
glass cover, the basin and glass cover can be
assumed as two parallel infinite plates. The shape
factor can be assumed to be equal to the emissivity
of the water surface which is 0.9. Hence Eq. 4 will
be:
) ( 9 . 0
4 4
g w r
T T q = o (5)
The convective heat loss from hot water surface in the
still to the glass cover can be calculated from the
following expression :
) (
g w c c
T T h q =
(6)
Where h
c
is the convective heat transfer coefficient, the
value of which depends on many parameters like
temperature of water and glass, density, conductivity,
specific heat, viscosity, expansion coefficient of fluid,
and spacing between water surface and glass cover.
Dunkle suggested an empirical relation for the
convective heat transfer coefficient as given below :
3 / 1
3
10 9 . 268
) (
884 . 0
(

+ =
w
w
g w
g w c
T
P
P P
T T h
(7)
Where Pw and Pg are the saturation partial pressures of water
vapour (N/m
2
) at water temperature and glass temperature
respectively.
The evaporative heat loss q
e
from water to the glass cover can be
calculated by knowing the mass transfer coefficient and
convective heat transfer coefficient. The empirical expression for
q
e
as give by Dunkle is given as :
) ( 28 . 16
g w c e
P P h q =
.(8)
Heat loss through the ground and periphery q
b
is difficult to
compute since the soil temperature is unknown. Moreover, the
heat conducted in the soil during daytime comes back in the
basin during night time. However, it can be computed from the
following simple relation :
) (
a w b b
T T U q =
.(9)
Where U
b
is the overall heat transfer coefficient from bottom.
The convective heat loss q
ca
from glass cover to
ambient air can be calculated from the following
expression :
) (
a g ca ca
T T h q =
(10)
Where h
ca
is the forced convection heat transfer
coefficient and is given by :
V h
ca
8 . 3 8 . 2 + =
(11)
Where V is the wind speed in m/s.
The radiative heat loss q
ra
from glass to sky can be
determined provided the radiant sky temperature T
s
is
known, which very much depends on atmospheric
conditions such as the presence of clouds etc.
Generally for practical purposes the average sky
temperature T
s
can be assumed to be about 12 K
below ambient temperature, i.e. T
g
= T
a
- 12. Thus
radiative heat loss q
ra
from glass cover to the
atmosphere is given as:
) (
4 4
s g g ra
T T q = o c
. (12)
Where c
g
is the emissivity of glass cover.
The exact solution of the above simultaneous equations
is not possible and hence iterative technique is
employed to find the solution. The digital simulation
techniques for solving the above equations for a
particular set of condition can also be adopted. Even
charts are given by Morse and Read and Howe which
can be used for performance prediction of solar stills for
a particular set of conditions.
Main Problems of Solar Still
Low distillate output per unit area
Leakage of vapour through joints
High maintenance
Productivity decreases with time for
a variety of reasons
Cost per unit output is very high
CONCLUSIONS ON BASIN- TYPE SOLAR STILL

1. The solar still output (distillate) is a strong function of
solar radiation on a horizontal surface. The distillate
output increases linearly with the solar insolation for a
given ambient temperature. If the ambient temperature
increases or the wind velocity decreases, the heat loss
from solar still decreases resulting in higher distillation
rate. It is observed for each 10C rise in ambient
temperature the output increases by 10 percent.

2. The depth of water in the basin also effects the
performance considerably. At lower basin depths, the
thermal capacity will be lower and hence the increase in
water temperature will be large resulting in higher
output. However, it all depends on the insulation of the
still. If there is no lnsulatlon, increase in water
temperature will also increase the bottom heat loss. It
has been observed that if the water depth increases from
1.2 cm to 30 cm the output of still decreases by 30
percent.
CONCLUSIONS ON BASIN- TYPE SOLAR
STILL (contd.)

3. Number of transparent covers in a solar still do
not increase the output since it increases the
temperature of the inner cover resulting in
lower condensation of water vapour.
4. Lower cover slope increases the output. From
practical considerations a minimum cover slope
of 10 deg. is suggested.
5. The maximum possible efficiency of a single
basin solar still is about 60 percent.
6. For higher receipt of solar radiation and
therefore the higher yield the long axis of the
solar still should be placed in the East-West
direction if the still is installed at a high
latitude station. At low latitude stations the
orientation has no effect on solar radiation
receipt.
ADDITIONAL CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM
EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES ON SOLAR STILLS
7. The main problem in a solar still Is the salt deposition of
calcium carbonate and calcium sulphate on the basin liner
which are white and insoluble and reflect solar radiation
from basin water and basin liner and thereby lowering the
still output. It is difficult to stop the salt deposition.
8. The physical methods suggested to prevent the salt
deposition are Frequent flushing of the stills with
complete drainage & Refilling or continuous agitation of
the still water by circulating it with a small pump.
9. Once the salt gets deposited then the only way is
completely draining the still and then scrubbing the sides
and basin liner and then refilling the still.
10. Another serious observation made in Australia is the
crystalline salt growth which takes place on the sides of
the basin and into the distillate trough effecting the purity
of distilled water.
11. Some success in preventing the crystalline salt growth is
achieved in Australia by pre-treating the feed water with
a complex phosphate compound which reduces the rate
of nucleation of salt crystals.
ADDITIONAL CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM
EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES ON SOLAR STILLS
12. Saline water in the still can be supplied either
continuously or in batches.
13. In Australia continuous supply of saline water in the solar
still is preferred at a rate of about 1.70 I/sq.m hr which
Is twice the maximum distillate rate.
14. This helps in reducing the salt deposition from the salt
solution.
15. From thermal efficiency point of view, batch filling i.e.
filling of saline water when the basin water is coolest
(early morning) is the best but it involves greater labour
costs and special plumbing arrangements.
16. Algae growth within the solar still also effects the
performance to a little extent but its growth must be
checked since its growth is unsightly and may finally block
the basin and contaminate the distillation troughs.
17. The algae growth can be checked by adding copper
sulphate and chlorine compounds in the saline water in
the still.