Solar-powered water distillation system

Abdlmonem Beitelmal, Drazen Fabris, Reece Kiriu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)


Future water demand is predicted to increase while current resources are continuously depleted. In this paper, a standalone off-the-grid water purification system is designed to provide an economically sustainable model for delivering clean drinking water is presented. This system utilizes concentrated heat generated by solar parabolic troughs to boil brackish water for the distillation process. The water vapor is then condensed into clean drinkable water in a water collection tank. The process of designing and optimizing the solar-powered distillation system (Heat exchanger, boiler, parabolic troughs, tracking and control system, photovoltaic panels and vapor and the heat transfer fluid pumps) and specifically the process of fabricating the parabolic trough is presented and discussed in details. Two troughs were designed and fabricated each with an area of 1.5 m2 (16 ft2). Each trough provides approximately 125 watts/ft. Duratherm 450, a non-toxic, non-hazardous heat transfer fluid (HTF) is selected for the solar trough hot loop. Additional system performance analysis was conducted through experimental testing and through a virtual system model utilizing the Engineering Equation Solver (EES). EES is used to model the heat transfer process of the overall distillation system and a range of optimum HTF flow rates were determined. The experimental results show an increase in water temperature within the boiler for the new range of HTF flow rates. In addition, the results show that the solar troughs are more robust, less expensive to manufacture, operate at a higher temperature and provide a higher performance when compared to a system that utilizes thermal panels. The overall system manufacturing cost is approximately $6000, which includes tracking, a control system and other required distillation components. This system is designed to fit into a standard 20-foot shipping container for ease of transportation worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnergy
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Print)9780791856284
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013
EventASME 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2013 - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 15 Nov 201321 Nov 2013

Publication series

NameASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Proceedings (IMECE)
Volume6 A


OtherASME 2013 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2013
CountryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering

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  • Cite this

    Beitelmal, A., Fabris, D., & Kiriu, R. (2013). Solar-powered water distillation system. In Energy (ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Proceedings (IMECE); Vol. 6 A). American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).