BARC develops low-cost solar water purifier

Scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai, have developed a water purifying technology that can be driven either by solar or wind power and desalinates contaminated water while simultaneously removing toxic elements, pathogens and turbidity.

"We have adapted an existing technology to the requirement of rural or remote areas where electricity is either not available at all or it is very erratic with voltage fluctuations," said Saly T Panicker from BARC's Desalination Division, who has developed the technology.

To treat water, electricity will be locally produced from sunlight. Water purification itself takes place by the pressure-driven, membrane-based process of reverse osmosis. "The domestic unit is small, portable, has no battery and can serve the drinking and cooking requirements of five families daily and has the capacity of producing 10 litres per hour," said Panicker.

A larger community unit, which runs on 16 PV panels, can cater to the needs of a village with over 100 families and has the capacity to clean 250 litres of water per hour. "Both systems can work for ten hours daily. When the sun is not available or during monsoons, they can be run on a wind turbine system," she added.

Panicker said the technology will cost five to ten paise per litre. Both units are now ready for technology transfer.

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