Solar Water Distiller Enables Desalination Anywhere There’s Sunlight and Saltwater


Written at True Activist

It functions by filling the black boiler with salty sea water in the morning, then tightening the cap. As the temperature and pressure grows, steam is forced downwards through a connection pipe and collects in the lid, which acts as a condenser, turning the steam into fresh water. Once Diamanti established the fundamentals were sound, he experimented with a series of concepts for the aesthetic of the object. “My goal was to design something friendly and recognizable for the users,” he explains. “The process developed quite naturally to determine the current shape; every detail is there for a reason, so the form, as well as production techniques, represent a compromise between technical and traditional.” Primary field studies in sub-Saharan Africa revealed the habit of carrying goods on the head–also a common practice in other areas around the world–and this was integrated into Eliodomestico’s plan. And while solar stills aren’t a totally new concept, Diamanti says it’s rare to find them in a domestic context rather than in missions or hospitals, or as large plants overseen by qualified personnel that serve entire communities. “I tried to make something for a real household that could be operated directly by the families,” he says.

The project recently won a Core77 Design Award for Social Impact; already, Diamanti has received international feedback, and hopes to see locals adapt and modify the design to take advantage of their own readily available materials and native environments. “The idea is that instructions for the project can be delivered to craftsmen” with the help of NGOs, he says, then a micro-credit program could be established to finance small-scale start-ups specializing in production. “So the NGO is the spark, micro-credit is the fuse, the local craftsmen are the bomb!”


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    • Actually it will, as only molekyles that can evoporate in the distiller (which is a fairly low temp and pressure) go through the pipe. Basically only water escapes. particles that might cause radiation will not.

  1. Fine, but people can not drink distilled water on a regular basis. Distilled water is highly acidic and will flush the minerals out of someones’ body.

  2. Any brackish or polluted water can be used. Distillation will separate water from any other material with a higher boiling point, and from any solids or biologicals suspended in the feed water. Low boiling point substances such as alcohol or volatile petroleum fractions, will come over first. So if your water is polluted with them, discard the first fraction and run the partially purified water through again, same as any fractional distillation system.

    Another solar still design uses a black plastic trough covered by clear plastic. Water goes in the trough, evaporates, and then condenses on the clear cover. Pure water runs down the inside of the clear cover and is carried away in troughs along its edges. This design can easily be scaled up for large scale desalinization. The big advantage of this system is it can be operated continuously. Brackish water is allowed to trickle in, sunlight heats the black trough, pure water evaporates, condenses on the cover, and is carried to collection systems by troughs along the bottom edges of the clear plastic. Simple, low tech, and very functional.


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