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‘Bubble-Greenhouses’ turn salt water into fresh water

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Carolyn Drake/Panos

Bubble desalination latest effort to boost crop growth

 

“We believe that the concept is applicable to arid regions worldwide.” Mario Schmack, Murdoch University

by Ian Randall

Speed read

  • Low-tech ‘Bubble-Greenhouses’ turn salt water into fresh water
  • They also create cool, humid conditions for better growth
  • Researchers are seeking partners to make prototype

Researchers in Australia are seeking to build a prototype ‘Bubble-Greenhouse’ that could provide remote, arid places with a low-tech, low-maintenance way to turn salt water into fresh water to grow food.

The engineers from Murdoch University, who published their study last month in the journal Desalination, estimate that a 150 square metre Bubble-Greenhouse could produce around eight cubic metres of fresh water and up to 30 kilograms of crops each day. The sealed structure would protect crops from insects and disease, while the technology should be relatively simple to implement and use in isolated areas, they say.
The Bubble-Greenhouse idea develops an existing seawater greenhouse concept, which uses the evaporation and condensation of salt water to produce fresh water for irrigation and to create a cool, humid environment inside a greenhouse, meaning crops need less water to grow.

The new approach moves the evaporation and condensation processes outside the greenhouse. Inside two water-filled ‘bubble columns’, streams of thousands of tiny bubbles create a large surface for water to evaporate or condense. A unique property of seawater prevents the small bubbles joining to form big bubbles, thus maintaining a large surface area.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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