Field demonstration of a cost-optimized solar powered electrodialysis reversal desalination system in rural India

Wei He, Susan Amrose, Natasha C. Wright, Tonio Buonassisi, Ian M. Peters, Amos G. Winter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This study provides experimental validation of a previously published optimal design theory for photovoltaic (PV)-powered electrodialysis reversal (EDR) desalination systems. The prior work describes the co-optimization of PV and EDR subsystems, and flexible operation to accommodate daily and annual solar irradiance variability, significantly reducing water cost. This study presents the fabrication of a PV-EDR pilot system designed using the co-optimization theory and field testing results from the rural village of Chelluru, India. Testing in the field enabled observation and evaluation of real-world factors on system performance, resulting in updates to the previous theory to include unaccounted factors that affect costs, including: filling and draining of water tanks, salt and water accumulation in tanks from prior batches, unexpected energy losses due to locally purchased converters, and scaling in the ED stack. Therefore, water cost in the PV-EDR pilot system was updated from previous estimates based on field performance. The estimated capital cost and lifetime cost of the Chelluru system are 34% and 45% lower, respectively, than the corresponding costs if the PV-EDR system was designed using conventional design practice. The theory and experimental insights presented in this paper will enable desalination engineers to better design and optimize PV-EDR systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114217
StatePublished - Feb 15 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was sponsored by Tata Projects Ltd. , the United States Bureau of Reclamation Desalination and Water Purification Research and Development grants R16AC00122 and R17AC00150 , and the MIT Energy Initiative . I.M.P. and T.B. acknowledge the support from Singapore's National Research Foundation through the Singapore MIT Alliance for Research and Technology's ‘Low energy electronic systems (LEES) IRG’. Appendix A

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cost-optimized
  • Electrodialysis reversal
  • Field-test
  • Photovoltaic

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