Development of a village-scale, solar-powered reverse osmosis system

David W. Bian, Julia A. Sokol, Janet H. Yun, Craig A. Mascarenhas, Chinasa Emeghara, Sterling M. Watson, Christopher Buresh, Annie Vander Werff, Natasha C. Wright, Amos G. Winter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


This paper details the development of a photovoltaic reverse osmosis water desalination system for a groundwater well in Bercy, Haiti. The well was constructed to provide potable drinking and agricultural water for the 300-person community. However, its water has a salinity level of 5,290 ppm, rendering it harmful for both human consumption and soil fertility. This reverse osmosis system is designed to be low-cost and operational off-grid while providing 900 gallons per day of desalinated water for the community. The system is composed of a photovoltaic power system, a submersible solar pump, and three reverse osmosis membranes. The system is designed to have a material cost significantly below that of any commercially-available system of similar scale. Furthermore, it has an average water production cost of $1.21/m3 and an average specific energy of 1.2 kWh/m3. Its performance was tested in the laboratory by connecting the desalination module to a DC power supply, demonstrating good agreement with its modeled performance. The installation of the full system with the PV module will take place on-site in the summer of 2016. Following implementation, the system will be monitored and compared against predicted performance. The first attempt is meant to serve as a verification and validation of the system as a whole. However, successful operation within the given cost target could pave the way for wider use of off-grid reverse osmosis systems at many remote locations with limited freshwater access around the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication42nd Design Automation Conference
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791850107
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE 2016 - Charlotte, United States
Duration: Aug 21 2016Aug 24 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference


OtherASME 2016 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC/CIE 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2016 by ASME.


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