It can’t spin straw into gold, but it can turn seawater into fresh drinking water. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Boston, USA, have developed a portable desalination unit. The suitcase-sized device, which weighs less than 22 pounds, requires less power to operate than a cell phone charger and can also be run by a small, equally portable, solar panel. Unlike other portable desalination units that require water to pass through filters, this device uses electrical power to remove particles from drinking water. Eliminating the need for replacement filters greatly reduces the need for long-term maintenance. Plus, this portable desalination unit is user-friendly with the push of a button.
What does that mean for sailors?
“Most of the sailors already have reverse osmosis (RO) portable desalination units,” answers Junghyo Yoon, one of the researchers at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics, that created this device. “However, they continue to want lighter, lower-power portable desalination devices, as well as those that are maintenance-free. For example, an unexpected fouling issue requires membrane replacement. It is not a problem if a sailor has these in stock, but if not, then sailors can’t make drinking water.”
Yoon says he and fellow MIT researchers are planning to scale up the production rate to meet the requirement of large yachts. The current version of the device can produce 7.2L per day. news.mit.edu/2022/portable-desalination-drinking-water-0428