New water purification system could help slake the world’s thirst


Sustainability issue

Category: Water

More than 1 billion people around the world lack access to fresh water. According to the report from World Health Organization, by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. In order to solve the problem, some wealthy areas have invested in water desalination plants, which can transform salt water into clean drinking water. However, these plants are too expensive to afford for most communities.

Technology solution

  • Now, Jia Zhu at Nanjing University in China has come up with a solar-powered technique that could make small-scale desalination system affordable.
  • The approach is based on an old technology called solar still. Since sun evaporates water very slowly, the throughput is a problem.
  • To fix the problem, researchers have tried topping the salt water with floating films dotted with nano-sized metal particles, and Zhu’s team tried to work with aluminum, instead of conventional gold.
  • Normally, aluminum is good at absorbing only ultraviolet light. But Zhu’s team broadened this absorption in two steps and making aluminum worked like gold particles.
  • The approach worked very well and the researchers were able to purify salt water up to three times faster compared to the conventional solar still.


  • Consumers
  • Government department which is responsible for the city residency’s water supply
  • Energy companies that aim at the utilization of solar energy
  • Utility companies

Implementation steps

Step 1: Introduce this new technology via variety of methods to government and energy companies.

Step 2: Set up workshop and studio to show the audience about the feasibility and potential of the technology.

Step 3: Establish a corporation relationship with the government which is in the water-stressed area.


UNI – wy2283


3 thoughts on “New water purification system could help slake the world’s thirst

  1. Interesting technology. Although it is not likely to replace current large scale industrial filtration techniques, which require massive inputs of energy and upfront financial capital, it could offer a more cost-effective solution for individuals to purify water for their own needs.


  2. Great find! A solution that seems to tackle multiple SDGs at the same time is quite a win! However, being reliant on the sun would mean being supplied with fresh water for a fixed period of time during the day, unless this is coupled with the use of storage tanks? That may add to costs, space needs and may not solve the problem for everyone.

    I think there needs to a a set of solutions that can cater to people across the income and livelihood spectrum. The use of nanotechnology and membrane chemistry to purify water right at the source is an interesting one- something like what LifeStraw is. Researchers in India are working on this as well. It is a small, portable solution that makes any drinking water safe to consume, without the need for storage space and other associated costs.

    In general I feel we need tiered solutions- at a larger scale, with storage, desalination works. For the less fortunate sections of society, we need more customized solutions, ideally ones that consume little to no energy.

    Here is a list of technologies that I found interesting, in addition to the one i described above-


  3. Potable and affordable water resource is one of the main challenges of the future and since desalination process itself pretty expensive and constrained for the moment due to storage, I would suggest alternative options like leakage detector technologies (TakaDu) since across the globe approximately 30% of water lost during transportation. Another mass solution could be NEwater water recycling technology that Singapore government is investing. Agree with Ava upfront investment could be challenging for this kind of massive upfront capital demanding technology.

    -Using each drop of water more than once
    -TaKaDu provides multiple benefits, for instance, reduced leakage and supply interruptions


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