Solar Desalination

Advisor: Dr. Rebekah Oulton
Students: Nick Skouras

Picture of Solar Desalination

Nick Skouras is a graduate student of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His research focuses on studying solar distillation as a reliable and sustainable method to recycle freshwater from wastewater sources like seawater and agricultural run-off. Over the past year, a prototype system utilizing a parabolic concentrating solar collector (PCSC) was constructed to study the capabilities of this system for desalination as part of a research thesis. The PCSC is a mirror that tracks the sun and focuses the sunlight onto an evacuated tube. The heat generated inside the tube is transferred to a boiler where the evaporate steam is collected and condensed into freshwater.

The Solar Desalination (SODESAL) project is multi-disciplinary, incorporating students from environmental, mechanical and electrical engineering. The SODESAL project inspired the formation of the Engineering for a Sustainable World club and is spearheading the solar distillation research at Cal Poly. The research data will help optimize a single PCSC system so that scalability of the technology as an array system can be tested using different wastewater sources. The ultimate goal is to develop solar distillation as a competitive alternative to conventional wastewater recycling methods.

The SODESAL project is currently under the final construction phase and awaiting environmental health and safety approval before data collection resumes.

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Nick Skouras