Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Use of Mechanical Vapor Compression (MVC) System for Development of Water Resources in Rural Areas of Developing Countries

EPA Grant Number: SU834712
Title: Use of Mechanical Vapor Compression (MVC) System for Development of Water Resources in Rural Areas of Developing Countries
Investigators: Ganesan, Kumar
Current Investigators: Ganesan, Kumar , Clark, Casey , Gillespie, Karen , Kannawin, Jon , Moon, Laura , Webb, Justin
Institution: Montana Tech of the University of Montana
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $9,794
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Quality drinking water is scarce in many rural areas of developing countries. Currently, inland desalination for the supply of fresh water is not sustainable due to expensive and energy intensive desalination technologies. This project proposes the development of a renewable energy driven mechanical vapor compression (MVC) system that treats brackish water into a clean drinking water to communities in rural areas. The system will remove most contaminants (e.g., dissolved solids, bacteria, etc) from the brackish groundwater with the exception of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The proposed MVC system is different from existing technologies because, it runs entirely on renewable energy. The MVC system utilizes wind power to mechanically drive the system and utilizes solar power to pre heat the water. The proposed MVC system will improve the health of the people in the community by providing clean drinking water, will improve the prosperity of the community by stimulating the development of the community, and will improve the environment by eliminating the need for fossil fuels to provide clean drinking water to the community. The overall goal of the project is to develop and demonstrate a wind driven mechanical vapor compression system that treats brackish groundwater to clean drinking water for regions of the world where there are not enough high-quality water resources available. The result of this proposed project will be the construction and testing of a pilot-scale device. Success will be measured by collecting water quality data pertaining to the inlet and outlet streams as well as collecting data pertaining to the operation of the system (e.g., pressure, temperature, etc.). Various presentations will be given to educate the university and surrounding community about the importance of sustainability using the proposed project.


The overall goal of the project is to design and construct a water purification device powered only by wind and solar energy. The system will be able to treat water with high salinity, bacterial contamination, sulfates, chlorides, total dissolved solids, and hardness. Water with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that have a boiling point near or greater than water would need to be removed with secondary treatment (e.g., activated carbon filter).


A system will be designed, built and tested as a pilot device. This device will be tested locally at Montana Tech in order to prove the feasibility of the technology and improve the design. Success will be measured by taking and comparing water quality measurements at the inlet and the two output streams (purified water and waste concentrate). These measurements include flow rates, salinity, pH, temperature, total dissolved solids, and biological contamination.

Expected Results:

Success will be measured by the amount and quality of the purified outlet stream. Other measurements taken during the experiments will be wind speed and direction, atmospheric temperature, barometric pressure, amount of sunlight, and vessel pressure and temperature to better understand the operations of the system. The efficiency of the system will be calculated in order to compare it to other technologies.

Supplemental Keywords:

environmental engineering, Montana, Ethiopia, conservation, alternative energy, sustainable technology,

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report