MIT has built a portable desalination device that moves from seawater to drinking water at the push of a button

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a portable desalination device that weighs less than 10 kilograms and can remove particles and salt to produce drinking water.

The suitcase-sized device, which runs on less electricity than a phone charger and can be powered by small, portable solar panels, costs about $50 online. It automatically produces drinking water that exceeds world health organization quality standards. The technology is packaged in a user-friendly device and can be run at the touch of a button.

Unlike other portable desalination devices that require a filter, the device uses electricity to remove particles from drinking water. No need to change the filter, greatly reducing the long-term maintenance requirements.

This would allow it to be deployed in remote and severely resource-constrained areas.

The portable desalination unit relies on a technique called ion concentration polarization (ICP) , pioneered more than a decade ago by MIT’s Han team. In short, this involves pumping seawater through a narrow channel between two charged membranes — one positively charged and one negatively charged. For more cutting edge technology, research, and progress visit:

When water passes through an electric field between two membranes, particles such as salt molecules, viruses and bacteria are expelled into the water’s side channels. The water in the main channel has now been purified and relatively desalinated, but it may still contain some salt ions. It was reported that the final output hose from the device exceeded the World Health Agency’s drinking water standards.

The current version produces 300 milliliters (10 ounces) of drinking water per hour at 20 watts per liter. The research team is now working to increase its productivity.

The study is published online in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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