Sun to H2O

Current project

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.

VIP ChallENG research goals

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

These technologies include:

  • Photovoltaics (PV)
  • Powered Reverse Osmosis (RO)
  • Solar Thermal Powered 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.

Your research team will:

  • 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.
  • Study and design improvements and modifications to optimise the amount of heat/energy used in the process.
  • Examine materials and manufacturing techniques (including 3D printing) for dramatically reducing the cost of producing water in these emerging technologies.

Research Areas:

  • Energy
  • Water
  • Reverse Osmosis (PV-Driven)
  • Solar Thermal-Driven Desalination (Membrane Distillation, Forward Osmosis, Innovative Solar Stills)
  • Renewable 
  • Photovoltaic
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering  & Telecommunications
  • Built Environment
  • Business
  • Material Science 
Sun to H2O

Explore the Sun to H2O sub-teams

Investigating the potential of solar energy as a water treatment technology, below are the various aspects you can choose to explore.

The PV-RO sub-team is working to develop portable and readily deployable water-treatment systems, which utilise solar electricity as the main source of pumping energy.

The RO Membrane Recycling sub-team is working to convert existing full-scale modules from RO plants into those that utilise solar electricity as the main source of pumping energy.

The Solar Thermal Desalination team will work on developing innovative prototypes that desalinate water using thermal technologies.

Team Academic Leads