California’s First Commercial Solar Desalination Plant in the Works
HydroRevolution, a subsidiary of WaterFX, has announced plans to build a commercial solar desalination plant in the Panoche Water and Drainage District in California’s Central Valley.
Once constructed, HydroRevolution will provide a sustainable water source to local water districts by using solar energy to recycle salt-impaired water into freshwater. This technology will be the first of its kind in the Central Valley.
The HydroRevolution plant will be an expansion of the demonstration plant operated by WaterFX in the Panoche District in 2013.
The new plant will be built on 35 acres of land currently farmed with salt-tolerant crops, with the potential of growing to a 70-acre site. This land that will house the solar desalination facility is a small fraction of the total 6,000 acres currently used to manage and reuse irrigation drainage water for the Panoche Water District and other participating water districts.
HydroRevolution will treat this water to recycle unusable irrigation water, thereby providing a new, local source of freshwater to offset the loss of imported water into the region.
HydroRevolution will ultimately be able to generate up to 5,000 acre-feet of water per year, enough water for 10,000 homes or 2,000 acres of cropland.
The plant will utilize Aqua4 technology developed by WaterFX. The system is a concentrated solar still that uses large solar arrays to capture solar thermal energy from the sun. The sun heats mineral oil that then flows to the Multi-effect Distillation system (MED) that evaporates freshwater from the source water.
More than 90 percent of the freshwater is recovered in this process while the briny remainder can be further treated to produce minerals and salts as useable solid co-products.
The market for desalination components will top $5 billion this year, according to forecasts from the McIlvaine Company, with drought-stricken California is at the epicenter of desalination activity.
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