A multifunctional device that captures the heat shed by photovoltaic solar panels has been developed by KAUST and used to generate clean drinking water as a way to simultaneously generate electricity and water using only renewable energy.
Water and energy production is deeply intertwined, says Wenbin Wang, a Ph.D. student in Peng Wang’s labs at the University's Water Desalination and Reuse Center. Conventional solar farms use fresh water to wash dust from the panels. Meanwhile, water desalination plants consume a lot of electricity to produce fresh water from seawater. “The water-energy nexus is one of the main issues threatening sustainable global development,” Wenbin says.
Image: A solar farm of photovoltaic panels with a heat-driven seawater desalination system beneath each panel could cogenerate renewable electricity and fresh water in arid coastal areas.
© 2019 Wenbin Wang