Solar-powered drinking water purification in the oases of Egypt's Western Desert

Author's Department

Institute of Global Health & Human Ecology

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Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Journal of Photonics for Energy

Publication Date





© The Authors. Published by SPIE under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. We focus on the potential of using solar PV powered, decentralized drinking water treatment technologies for providing communities in remote areas with safe drinking water. Small-scale, solar PV-powered solutions for water purification may help achieve the sustainable development goals in areas without electricity access. However, more field-based research on the performance of solar-powered drinking water technologies is needed in order to perfect existing technologies. We introduce the first longer-term applied field study on the performance of 16 solar PV-powered drinking water stations using greensand filters for iron removal and anodic oxidation for chlorine production in the oases across Egypt's Western Desert. Local groundwater shows natural iron concentrations that in some places exceed the WHO standard (0.3 mg/l) by a factor of 50. The presented results show that the energy efficient, solar PV-operated stations successfully remove the iron from the water. Chlorine levels vary by location and are connected to local consumption patterns and site-specific system settings. Simple adjustments are needed in order to fully benefit from the solar-driven anodic oxidation process. Solar-powered technologies for drinking water purification need to be able to respond to specific local conditions in order to become an upscalable solution for remote, rural areas across the globe.

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