Sun to H2O

Current project

Applications now open for VIP 2022 via a wait-list!


Academics will be in touch throughout the year to arrange an interview 

VIP Snapshot

Develop portable modules which use sunlight to produce drinking water. Perfect for ongoing, day-to-day use in urban and rural areas as well as an ideal temporary solution for disaster zones, this project offers an affordable and sustainable solution at the energy-water nexus.

Sun to H2O

VIP ChallENG research goals

You’ll work to continuously improve existing designs, systems and prototypes that already have great momentum on the quest to harvest solar energy as the driving force for small-scale water treatment technologies. 

These technologies include:

  • Reverse osmosis
  • Forward osmosis
  • Membrane desalination
  • Solar stills

You’ll also study the techno-economics of these systems and the associated manufacturing issues. The main goal is to get one or more of these technologies across the line in terms of translational research and knowledge exchange with industry. 

Research, design or technical ChallENG

Your research team will:

  1. Compare and contrast the various prototypes that have been developed and initially tested at UNSW. This will identify which ones are the most promising for further development in partnership with industry. 
  2. Study and design improvements and modifications to optimise the amount of heat/energy used in the process. 
  3. Examine materials and manufacturing techniques (including 3D printing) for dramatically reducing the cost of producing water in these emerging technologies.

Desired Background

All degrees are welcome however, students specialising in the below areas are encouraged to apply.

Desired Research Areas Desired Skills


  • Energy  
  • Water 
  • Reverse Osmosis (PV-Driven)
  • Membrane Distillation (Solar Thermal-Driven) 
  • Forward Osmosis (Solar Thermal-Driven)
  • Solar Stills (Solar Thermal-Driven)


  • Renewable 
  • Photovoltaic
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering  & Telecommunications
  • Built Environment
  • Business
  • Material Science 


Team Academic Leads