A novel small dynamic solar thermal desalination plant with a fluid piston converter

Khamid Mahkamov, Eugene Orda, Basim Belgasim, Irina Makhkamova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


An innovative small dynamic water desalination plant was developed and tested under laboratory conditions. The system is a combination of a heat pipe evacuated tube solar collector, conventional condenser and novel fluid piston converter. Saline water is boiled and turned into vapour in the manifold of the solar collector. A small fraction of the solar energy supplied to the plant is used to drive the fluid piston converter. Oscillations of the fluid piston periodically change the volume and pressure in the plant. For the duration of approximately half of the periodic cycle the pressure in the plant drops below the atmospheric level causing flash boiling of saline water in the manifold of the solar collector. Generated vapour is turned into fresh water in the condenser which is surrounded by a cooling jacket with saline water. The flash boiling effect improves the fresh water production capacity of the plant. Additionally, the fluid piston converter drives a pump which provides lifting of saline water from a well and pumps this through the cooling jacket of the condenser to a saline water storage tank. This tank replenishes saline water in the manifold of the solar collector. Experimental investigations demonstrated the saline water self-circulation capability of the plant and increase in the fresh water production compared to the static mode of operation. Experimental data was also used to calibrate the mathematical model of the plant. Comparison of theoretical and experimental information demonstrates that the model accurately predicts the performance of the plant. The proposed novel system with greater fresh water production capacity has a simple design and is easy to manufacture using low cost materials and therefore can be mass deployed for small scale saline water pumping and desalination across different regions with the relatively high solar radiation and shortage in the drinking water supply.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-726
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date4 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2015


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