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Published on December 19th, 2011 | by Tom Cranford

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Floating, Desalinating “Solar Cucumbers” Could Be the Future of Water Purification

When it comes to solving serious problem, innovation is necessary. As we learn more about human caused climate change, environmental degradation, and resource depletion, innovative minds have been at work in labs around the world, trying to create a greener, cleaner planet, while making us a more efficient society. New technologies seem to be emerging at rapid speed. The green sector is one of the biggest growing sectors of the economy, as well as employment arenas. From small everyday things such as solar panels on our homes to large scale ideas like smart growth city planning, the environment is a big factor in new developments of any kind.

Resource depletion is a serious concern, especially in areas that are suffering long standing droughts in addition to a reduced availability of vital resources such as water. The concept of desalinating seawater, or removing the salt from seawater in order to extract fresh, potable water, is not a new concept. But it has long had many barriers standing in the way of implementing this technology on a significant scale. Most desalinating systems currently in use are resource intensive and are often powered by non-renewable, dirty energy.

But there is now a new technology on the horizon that might make desalinating seawater affordable, and in a manner that has benefits beyond just providing clean, fresh water. Phil Pauley, a designer from the UK, has come up with a concept that might just revolutionize desalinating technology. He has termed his technology “solar cucumbers.” A number of “cucumbers” are strung together in a permanent setting. Powered by the sun, using the concept of reverse osmosis, the water is purified using the natural process of water cycling in nature – using heat and humidity.

In addition to providing clean, potable drinking water, sea salt can also be harvested for use. Pauley also claims that the chain of solar cucumbers, when left in place permanently, will provide a reef-like habitat for sea wildlife. While this is still in a prototype phase, and it is not known exactly what scale these solar cucumbers can be used on, it is yet another example of green innovation. Even if these solar cucumbers cannot be used for large scale water desalinating, they could be used on a local level, providing for the needs of those in coastal cities or areas that have plenty of seawater, but not enough fresh. These innovative ideas allow us to envision a future where we make efficient use of resources to provide for our needs.

Image source: Phil Pauley



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2 Responses to Floating, Desalinating “Solar Cucumbers” Could Be the Future of Water Purification

  1. This sounds like a very promising project. Utilizing basic natural processes to both power the system as well as perform the desalination sounds excellent. And with two great byproducts, sea salt and a new habitat, any scale implementation of the system could make sense. Can’t wait to see what happens with this.

  2. gerald posner says:

    Great creativity. Required resource for survival – farming and drinking. Without fresh water we have a real problem. Look forward to the near future and how this idea and technology evolves.

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