Skip to content

🤖 Water Purification Powered by the Photons of the Sun

Smart Water Solutions

Photo by Steve Huntington / Unsplash

Host: Hakim El Fadil
Guest: William Janssen | CEO | Desolenator
Category: 🤖 Technology

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[7:38] “Desolenator is basically the word desalination, but we [took] out the salt, and we replace the salt with sun. Sol […] means sun in Spanish and and we basically removed the reference in desalination to sol and because we are using sunshine to achieve desalination. […] As for the original idea of Desolenator, it was to use the direct effect of sunshine to achieve heating of water and to achieve electricity at the same time and to use both building blocks in a clever way to achieve evaporation and condensation.

[9:28] “It is definitely solar harvesting, but it is specifically not using membranes. So the principle of Desolenator is to do three things: to harvest solar energy in the most efficient way possible, to capture and store that energy for medium term and to convert that energy in the most practical and efficient way.

[10:06] “If you look at the solutions that are currently available in the market […] [they] can desalinate when there is sunshine, because you have access to electricity. But as soon as the sun sets your installation will stop working. You can then buy a very very very large battery and try to keep on working 24/7 or hook up to the grid, but the grid is of course very often filled with power that is generated by using fossil fuels. So if you're in a remote location or if you want to create water that is 100% sustainable then you have a problem to overcome. How do you overcome the problem of intermittency?”

[10:59] “What we do is we do not only harvest electricity from a solar array we also harvest the heat of the sun. […] Heat has a very big advantage. […] We as humanity have stored heat for hundreds of years for 1000s of years. And storing heat is cheap, it is reliable and you can do it at large scale without very big engineering problems. So we harvest a lot of heat during the day and we use this heat 24/7 so we can basically run our installation 24/7. We are no longer dependent on whether the sun is actually shining. That gives us the opportunity to hook up to a municipal water supply, because we can supply water during the daytime but also during the night.”

[21:15] “If you want to provide the city of Jeddah or the city of Dubai with water, if you would want to use a Desolenator solution, the size of the array would become so large that it would become prohibitive. […] Desolenator as an offering is really very much tuned to your off grid location, coastal, island locations, locations where people are looking to be 100%, sustainable and locations where companies need a solution and they have the infrastructure that can work in harmony with Desolenator.”

[36:06] “We face a few challenges. The first one is obviously energy management. The mixing and matching of thermal kilowatt hours and electric kilowatt hours is not something that is commonly done. It is definitely a little bit of uncharted water and we are really working very hard […] to learn how to manage our energy system. But also, […] if you go to your electricity meter in your house, it will tell you exactly how much electricity you're using, and it will tell you on your bill, how much this electricity cost you. But for thermal power, there is very little reference as to what is the value of a kilowatt hour of thermal heat. Very often the value of thermal heat is negative, because it is referred to as waste heat and operators want to get rid of waste heat. So it is very difficult to put a price tag on that. That is definitely a problem that we have to overcome, and we have to make work for us in the best way.”

[52:03] “For locations where there was a shortage of water, we definitely see a convergence between energy and water. So we very much see that levelized cost of energy and levelized cost of water are becoming two sides of the same coin.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify (Original Title: "William Janssen: Desolenator")
🕰️ 57 min | 🗓️ 10/20/2021
✅ Time saved: 55 min