Development of Solar Powered Membrane Desalination Unit

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths


Membrane desalination (MD) is a thermally driven water purification process with an operating temperature of 40 to 80C. The solar-powered MD is attractive not only to water desalination but also to food industries, medical fields, and to environmental applications such as the removal of benzene and heavy metals from water. This proposal intends to build a system with a solar powered MD for water purification. This is a stand-alone system which is combining concentrated photovoltaics thermal (CPV/T) and a suitable reverse osmosis pump with the smart controller to provide potable water from salt water and/or brackish-water. The system will be designed to operate at a temperature of up to 80C which is a lower operating temperature than that of conventional distillation technologies. It also operates under a lower hydrostatic pressure than that of other membrane processes. This will give economically competitive technology in remote locations, especially in India.

The overall aim of the project is to develop and demonstrate a reliable, highly efficient and cost-effective MD desalination system based on concentrated photovoltaic and thermal (CPV/T) energy collectors, with a combined electrical/thermal efficiency of over 75%. The targeted efficiency improvement for the desalination unit is predicted to be between 2% to 4%. Following tasks will be undertaken during the studentship:
Task 1: Undertake state-of-the-art literature review for solar-powered desalination technologies (0-6 months)
Task 2: Carryout several experiments of the nanoporous membrane for different particle combination and its stability, such as TiO2, ZnO, and Ag samples (0-12 months)
Task 3: Improve the existing integrated model for heat transfer through the nanoporous membrane (6-20 months)
Task 4: Setup an experimental base for MD integrated CPV system for a wide range of weather conditions (18-30 months), including outdoor performance analysis for three months at the Solar Lab, Penryn Campus.
Task 5: Numerical and experimental model validation and parametric analysis (30-36 months)
Task 6: Thesis writing and Ph.D. submission towards, viva and required amendments to be before the end of the project.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509656/1 30/09/2016 29/09/2021
2072108 Studentship EP/N509656/1 01/02/2019 12/05/2027 Vikki Sarah Reid
EP/R513210/1 30/09/2018 29/09/2023
2072108 Studentship EP/R513210/1 01/02/2019 12/05/2027 Vikki Sarah Reid