Argentine researchers create a system to make seawater drinkable that works with green hydrogen

By : Dr. Franyi Sarmiento, Ph.D., Inspenet, March 23, 2022

A research team under the leadership of Adrian Brunini, a CONICET scientist at the Caleta Olivia Academic Unit (UACO, National University of Southern Patagonia in Argentina), managed to develop a seawater heater to obtain drinking water. The equipment, which does not generate harmful environmental consequences, works with green hydrogen.

“We tried to find a solution, something that would have an impact on the community,” Brunini explains about the motivations behind the development. And he continues: “We started working on a technology that reproduces the water cycle. It is a thermal, efficient energy that does not require major technological advances to work in a desalination plant”.

The research team built a desalination pilot plant that works with the burning of hydrogen, therefore it does not affect the environment: “Hydrogen only produces water vapor and that is important because it does not generate any greenhouse gas”, argues the researcher. .

The technology mimics the natural cycle of water. “Seawater is heated and put in contact with dry air, by doing this the dry air immediately becomes humid,” explains Brunini. The air absorbs the humidity of the water, “the point is that it only absorbs the water, not the salt”, he adds. The next step will be to condense the humidity of the air to recover the resource that was, until then, in the form of steam.

The researcher warns that the equipment has a special thermodynamic design that allows most of the energy used to be recovered. Furthermore, for Brunini, if the production of hydrogen through clean energy, such as solar panels or windmills, is added to this process, it would be possible to speak of a doubly noble circuit.

Looking to the future, the intention is to continue improving performance in aspects such as pressure and the incorporation of new prototypes that can contribute to the improvement of technology. For Brunini, technological development is essential to strengthen sovereignty as a country: “We have to develop the necessary technology not only to produce hydrogen, but also to use it,” he concludes.

This CONICET material was edited for clarity, style and length.

Source and photo CONICET. “A development of a CONICET research team allows the desalination of seawater for human consumption.” Under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Argentina License: -sea-for-human-consumption/