Should the disaster occur near a coastline (the Haiti earthquake, for example), turning saltwater into drinking water could be a lifesaver. MIT researchers hope to make this recovery scenario possible with their new solar-powered desalination system. Running 100 percent on the sun's energy, the system's many pumps usher water through a polymer membrane at high pressure, filtering the water's minerals and salts via reverse osmosis.
According to its developers, the prototype can make 80 gallons of potable water each day. Should the weather be cloudy, the system's sensors alert its operators to make adjustments to control the pumps and valves, for continued filtration. They now plan to construct a larger, $8,000 system with a daily output of 1,000 gallons. The team estimates a cargo plane could haul 24 such units to a disaster area, quenching the thirst and water needs for about 10,000 people.
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Images: Flickr/Today is a good day and MIT
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