Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Design, Optimize and Evaluate a System for Pond Water/Grey Water/Rainwater and Wastewater Sources to Provide Drinking Water Quality by Various Solar Distillation Techniques

EPA Grant Number: SU835309
Title: Design, Optimize and Evaluate a System for Pond Water/Grey Water/Rainwater and Wastewater Sources to Provide Drinking Water Quality by Various Solar Distillation Techniques
Investigators: Lucas, Frank , DeMarco, Jackie , Jacobson, Alyssa , Laznik, Abraham , Villaverde, Sonia , Wuyke, Gabriella
Institution: Lynn University
EPA Project Officer: Lank, Gregory
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability



Potable water is now becoming a precious commodity. Not only has climate change affected the location of drinking water but over population and urban expansion has diminished ground water and river supplies. Examples of this problem are everywhere, the Colorado River, San Joaquin Delta basin, and Florida aquifer. Current municipal designs for water availability use pumping underground aquifers, surface reservoirs or rivers to provide potable water to the population. The end user consume potable water for a number of uses – drinking water, wash & shower water, laundry water, coolant water for large air conditioning systems and wash water for industrial processes. This “Used” water is then collected as “waste water” a combination of Black water, grey water and potable water in the municipal sewer system and waste treatment plants. The most advanced municipal systems split off a fraction of the 99.99% water for re‐use as “NPR or Not Potable Reuse”. Can waste water, grey water, rainwater and pond water be processed by solar distillation to provide drinking water and NPR.


The study uses a solar distillation apparatus (patent # 4495034) for treatment of pond water to recover bacterial and fungal free water. This bactericidal benefit was unexpected and provides the opportunity to treat grey water, waste water and rainwater as additional sources. Several drinking water parameters are measured. The temperature of the solar still reaches pasteurization levels of greater than 130 F degrees. Processed water is collected and tested in the laboratory. Yields are measured and averaged 250 ml per day for 1.5 square feet of reservoir surface area and three square feet of condensing area. Based on the pilot data, the grant application goal is 50 gallons/day/person as a continuation of this preliminary work to improve the process yields and evaluate other designs. The improvements will be in two areas. The proof of principle design is the baseline. The design changes are the following: use vacuum to move the water vapor to the condenser, surface area modifications optimization, the use of auxiliary solar hot water heaters to pre heat the waste water by parabolic reflectors to achieve water temperatures in excess of 170 degrees F. The condenser design will study surface area improvements and maximize cooling of the condenser. Coarse filtration and storage methods for 30 day shelf life will be assessed.

Expected Results:

The home sized system optimized for recovery and quality of water using pond water/grey water/rainwater/waste water as source once distilled by solar power will provide the final “NPR” product. The goal of recovered water is to supply 50 gallons/person/day.

Supplemental Keywords:

Solar distillation

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report