Worldwide, 2 billion people have no or insufficient access to drinking water. Although saltwater is already treated in industrial plants in areas with low freshwater levels, this process is cost-intensive and resource-intensive. As a result, only a fraction of those with no or limited access to drinking water have benefited from this technology to date.
In order to make salt and brackish water treatment more efficient, Prof. Dr. Margit Gföhler and Prof. Dr. Michael Harasek from the Vienna University of Technology developed a mobile desalination plant that is operated entirely without electricity. Technically, the scientists use the principle of reverse osmosis, i.e. the pressure of natural osmosis is reversed and the salt is removed from the salt water. Combined with a piston pump with pressure energy recovery, which is operated by a bicycle pedal drive, seawater or brackish water can finally be treated. One of these mobile desalination plants is already sufficient to cover the daily water needs of a family. Furthermore, the low maintenance costs provide financial relief for the users.