Bio-inspired Desalination for Off-Grid Water Treatment (UC Berkeley)

Team Members: Casey Finnerty, Caroline Evans, Eric Garcia, Rebecca Kaliff

School: UC Berkeley

Bio-inspired desalination for off-grid water treatment

Access to clean water is a luxury many of us take for granted. Yet, millions of people worldwide are not so lucky. Our team will use existing infrastructure and familiarity with solar technologies, off-grid, bio-inspired desalination through synthetic transpiration to help enable the provision of clean water access to nearly 75 million households in India alone. Synthetic transpiration is a bio-inspired desalination technology that requires no external energy inputs besides sunlight. Mimicking water transport mechanisms found in mangrove trees, this technology uses sunlight to induce water evaporation, which serves as the driving force for filtration. Evaporated water is then condensed as drinkable water. The technology is enhanced by the use of graphene-oxide based nanomaterials that increase evaporation rates and augment passive water transport throughout the technology. This technology is being implemented in southern India to combat groundwater salinization that is causing widespread hypertension throughout urban areas.