Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2010NV161B

Predicting Solar Still Water Production by Using Artificial Intelligence Techniques

Institute: Nevada
Year Established: 2010 Start Date: 2010-03-01 End Date: 2011-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $7,890 Total Non-Federal Funds: $21,684

Principal Investigators: Aly Said, David James

Abstract: With the rising cost and limited supply of traditional fossil fuels, both water transportation costs and distillation processes such as multistage flash, multiple effect, vapor compression, reverse osmosis, electrolysis, phase change, and solvent extraction will see their price per unit of water increase drastically. Solar distillation is a simple and clean technology which can be used to distill brackish or polluted water into drinkable water and can be used to reduce fossil fuel dependence that presently exists at distillation plants. Being able to predict solar still performance from long-term solar irradiance, air temperature, wind speed, wind direction, and cloud cover data, while taking into account meteorological variations, will prove to be a novel scientific investment to better the quality of life for Nevada and many people in need of potable water worldwide. Solar stills can be considered as a miniature watershed, producing varying amounts of potable water in response to fluctuating meteorological conditions. Adequate prediction of solar still output using conventionally-obtained meteorological data would enable accurate, cost-effective, conservative design of solar still installations to deliver predicted water yields to meet a community’s potable water needs for arid locations on the earth’s surface. Solar stills could be widely implemented in Nevada because of its combination of ample sunlight and, in many locations, supplies of surface or groundwaters that require treatment before becoming potable. These types of conditions also exist in many arid locations worldwide where groundwater is contaminated with arsenic or fluoride as their only available supply; as a result, many people suffer chronic health impairments from consuming these supplies. In the southwestern U.S., contaminated surface runoff or ground water could be purified for use as a potable supply in remote locations, irrigation of food crops, or for landscape irrigation. Furthermore, in an urban set up, solar stills could also be implemented into Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) projects for onsite treatment of wastewater and runoff; this could qualify for credits towards United States Green Building Council (USGBC) accreditation.