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Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2021 Abstracts

UVU Solar Water Purifier

Presenters: Nathan Cornell, College of Sciences, Biology
Authors: Nathan Cornell, Ashley Larsen, Gerrit Burgener, Kevin Shurtleff
Faculty Advisor: Kevin Shurtleff, College of Science, Chemistry
Institution: Utah Valley University

According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, 2.2 billion people did not have easy access to clean drinking water. The purpose of this project is to create an inexpensive and efficient solar water purifier, to be implemented in places where clean water is scarce. The UVU solar water purifier has a unique design compared to other purifiers. Our purifier apparatus is covered with a cost-effective black solar cloth with a large surface area in order to absorb the most solar energy possible. Dirty water drips down the solar cloth on the south facing side of the purifier. Heat energy from the sun evaporates the water on the solar cloth. The outer layer of a plastic sheet traps the water vapor inside the purifier. The water vapor moves by convection to the cooler, north facing side of the purifier, where it condenses on the inside of the plastic sheet. Unique to our design is that dirty water will also be dripped down the solar cloth on the outside of the plastic of the north facing side. As this dirty water evaporates on the outside, it will remove heat energy from the system, effectively cooling the north facing plastic. This will accelerate condensation on this side of the water purifier, making it more efficient in water collection. At 100% efficiency the 10 foot by 10 foot solar purifier will be able to purify 19.2 gallons of pure water daily with an additional 19.2 gallons of water needed for the cooling process. Once completed, we will distribute this apparatus via humanitarian aid to areas in need. The volunteers from these organizations will have the task to construct these purifiers and teach recipients on how to use and maintain the purifiers.