Is it possible to use solar energy as an effective means of cleaning contaminated water?

Speaker: Robert Swierczewski, University of Chester
Venue: Online - Microsoft Teams
Date: 5/2/2021 11:30 - 12:30
Audience: Staff, students and Thornton tenants


The origins of water purification methods lie in prehistory. The first documented use of solar energy for water purification was described by the ancient Roman philosopher Lucius A. Seneca in a series of philosophical essays titled Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, published around 65AD. Ancient Romans were skilled in using solar stills, while solar water heating was widespread in baths throughout the ancient Rome.

Several modern research studies showed that advanced electrochemical systems used in water purification can be powered by a vast range of photovoltaic systems. Although these technologies are relatively new and still maturing, big changes are expected soon, followed by a broad technology adoption by the industry.

The goal of this presentation is to provide a comprehensive literature review demonstrating current knowledge in the field and evaluating what has been done to date, thus forming a firm foundation for the Life Amia research project.

Life Amia is an acronym for the EU-funded, international engineering project ref. LIFE18 ENV/ES/000170 aiming to develop a novel approach to wastewater treatment by implementing a combination of carbon-neutral emerging technologies in a fully functional, mid-size (<3000 m3/day) demonstration plant located in the region of Murcia, Spain

A British, Runcorn-based company Arvia Technology Ltd has been awarded with a contract to develop an economical, reliable, environmentally considerate, off-grid solution for the destruction of micro-organics and pathogens in water and wastewater utilising solar energy.

The developed technology is expected to improve the feasibility and economics of domestic and industrial water reuse in geographically remote locations. To achieve this, the project aims to determine the optimal means of powering an Arvia Technology Ltd electrochemical water treatment reactor using solar photovoltaic panels. The research will focus on the specification, design, construction, characterisation and demonstration of a laboratory scale, solar powered, prototype and to determine the basic design rules for product scale-up.

The access to fresh water was a huge problem in the antiquity and it grew even bigger in modern times, with the expansion of global population. It is anticipated that the Life Amia project will help to reduce water poverty by mitigating rapidly shrinking global water resources while maintaining low operational costs and carbon footprint.

Speaker's Bio

Robert is an MRes student supervised by Dr Bin Yang and Dr David Ward, University of Chester.

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