Desalination and Demineralization with Solar Evaporation Array (SEA)

EPA Grant Number: SU833945
Title: Desalination and Demineralization with Solar Evaporation Array (SEA)
Investigators: Tipping, Richard H. , Bakker, Martin , Wofsey, Mike
Current Investigators: Tipping, Richard H. , DiMuro, Dave , Dixon, Randall , Wofsey, Mike
Institution: University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2008 through August 14, 2009
Project Amount: $9,840
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2008) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Materials & Chemicals , P3 Challenge Area - Water , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


We plan to extend our research on the Solar Evaporation Array (SEA) panel, which is a self-contained desalination and water-purification apparatus powered by the sun. Our objective is to bring ready, inexpensive access to pure water. Existing water purification methods either cannot remove dissolved minerals and salts, or else are too expensive to be used for small applications. We aim to develop SEA panels as a way of making potable, irrigable water for a much lower cost per liter than existing methods. We also aim to reduce and possibly eliminate brine pollution from the desalination process.


Our approach is to exploit plastics thermoforming technology, which can produce complex structures in a single pass. We plan to use plastic feedstock made from recycled drink and water bottles. We have found that we can eliminate expensive and complex flow and level controllers by taking advantage of water surface tension. In this way, the flow and level controllers are essentially thermoformed into the panels themselves. This reduces the necessary manufactured components. Allowing the salt or minerals to crystallize in the unit and then be removed as potentially valuable solid crystals eliminates brine pollution.

Expected Results:

We expect to manufacture our next generation of SEA panel prototype and then calibrate our existing theoretical models. We expect these new panels to improve upon the efficiency of our previously-tested technology, and further lower the cost-per-liter of water desalination and demineralization.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 2 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Developing Nations, sustainable water use, thirst, drought, seawater, aquifer, mineralized, distillation, humidification,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report