Solar Steam
Feb 21, 2024

The Solar Steam Project: Potable Water from the Sun

A proposal to harness the sun's energy to pump seawater to arid regions, using thousands of lenses to generate steam and produce both electricity and life-sustaining potable water.

Harnessing Solar Energy for Sustainable Water

How about using simple technology to bring life-sustaining water, created from sea water, to arid regions? Water that has the same mineral content as rain. How about this water being the byproduct of generating electricity using the energy of the sun? All of this on a massive scale to help save the planet. Turning arid land into new forest and vegetation that would gobble up carbon dioxide.

Utilizing Sunlight and Sea Water

Imagine the picture above (Australian Arid Earth) with water available all year. And not just in Australia but all over the world where there is arid land.

Why couldn’t we pump millions of gallons of sea water to areas that are in danger of becoming desert and use thousands of small convex lenses (or small Fresnel lenses) focused by thousands of small computers to concentrate sunlight onto thousands of small containers of sea water to produce steam? We know that a small fire can be started with a hand-held magnifying glass and a few dry leaves. So why not use this simple technology of small scale on a large scale project? Very large. Semi-nano to ultra heroic.

Why couldn’t the steam produced by these thousands of lenses be used to power thousands of small turbines which would produce electricity for The Grid? Why couldn’t the steam be captured, after it has powered the turbines, and condensed into water? Distilled water, to be sure, but why couldn’t minerals be added to the distilled water to create water that would be beneficial to animal and plant life? Simplification of technology for amplification of sustainable habitat. Wouldn’t Thoreau be pleased?

Why couldn’t the millions of gallons of water produced be used to create new forests and vegetation which we so badly need to combat the polluting emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels? To say nothing, or everything, about providing jobs and economic viability to areas that now produce neither and are in danger of being transformed from arid land into true desert.

With global temperature and sea level both rising, why hasn’t this been done on the scale needed to slow down these enemies of the planet? There must be something holding the effort back. Surely we already have pumps of the size that would be needed to pump the water from the oceans. Surely we already have pipes large enough to move the water to the areas where the water and electricity would be produced. Surely the number of lenses needed could be worked out. Surely the optimum size and shape of the containers could be worked out. Surely the number of containers it would take to make the project worthwhile could be worked out. Surely we have a metal or other super conductive material that could be used to make the containers.

Expense vs. Impact

So what could be the reason that is holding back the effort? Too expensive? What does that mean? Does it mean that it is more expensive than you would want it to be? Or does it mean that the expense is greater than the worth of the planet being saved? Hard to imagine a project that would be deemed more expensive than the value of the planet. This is a fairly simple project, just massive in its implementation and management. The components of the operation could be created relatively quickly; think of the production lines that created the materiel for fighting the Second World War. What is needed is the will to save the planet.

Think of the mitigating effects on sea levels of so much sea water being pumped out of the oceans on a scale large enough to provide continuous water for the millions of containers. Think of the land that will be saved from being inundated by the rising oceans. Think of the Marshall Islands and Manhattan. Think of Bangladesh and Barbados. Think of the Netherlands and New Orleans. Think of Lagos and ocean littoral everywhere in the world and the effects sea-level rise will have on all if we do nothing.

This suggestion, if adopted, would not relieve the world’s citizens of the obligation to reduce emissions from fossil fuels. It is a suggestion for averting worldwide catastrophe while continuing the worldwide effort to reduce emissions from, and dependency on, fossil fuels. It is not a plan to allow fossil fuels to continue to be burned at the current profligate and planet-destroying rate.

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