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New system provides fresh water from power plants, installed on MIT’s Central Utility Plant

Jun 10, 2018, 10:30 am

Developed by MIT scientists, a new system could provide a low-cost source of drinking water for parched cities around the world while also cutting power plant operating costs. This as well can become a significant source of clean, safe drinking water for coastal cities where seawater is in much use to cool local power plants.

Such a system is an initiative taken by a startup company called Infinite Cooling where scientists actually wanted to improve the effectiveness of haze gathering systems that are utilized as a part of numerous water-scarce coastal regions as a source of clean drinking water.

About 39 percent of all the freshwater withdrawn from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs in the U.S. is reserved for the cooling needs of electric power plants that use fossil fuels or nuclear power and much of it gets wasted just by floating away in clouds of vapor. And as solution technology comes in handy as by inventing a new system that could potentially save a substantial fraction of that lost water.

The system working behind the concept is apparently way more simple. When the air that’s rich in fog is trapped with a gleam of charged particles that are known as ions, the water droplets contained in the fog are hence drawn toward a mesh of wires. The droplets are collected on that mesh and drained to a collecting pan making it fit to be reused in the power plant or sent to a city’s water supply system.

Such an invention last month won MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. The proud co-founders of the company, Damak, and Varanasi visions to develop highly efficient water recovery system by capturing water droplets from both natural fog and plumes of industrial cooling towers.

The team is now busy building a full-scale test version of their system to be placed on the cooling tower of MIT’s Central Utility Plant that provides most of the campus’ electricity, heating, and cooling. It is expected that all things will be set in place by the end of the summer and will undergo testing in the fall. The test will include trying variations of the mesh and its supporting structure.

Fresh water recovery from power plants is the test version of the system and will not only “de-risk” the technology, but will also help the MIT campus improve its water footprint. Varanasi hopes to bring a better change in the environment.

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