The plant will use solar energy to recycle salt-impaired water into freshwater
HydroRevolution, a California subsidiary of WaterFX, announced plans to build a commercial solar desalination plant in the Panoche Water and Drainage District in California’s Central Valley. Once constructed, the plant will provide a sustainable water source to local water districts by using solar energy to recycle salt impaired water into freshwater. This technology will be the first of its kind in the Central Valley.
The plant will be an expansion of the demonstration plant operated by WaterFX in the Panoche District in 2013.
“The demonstration plant proved that we can reliably treat drainage water, and also showed that the treated water is not a waste product; it is a valuable new source of freshwater” said HydroRevolution Chairman Aaron Mandell. “Using a sustainable source of energy to recycle or desalinate water will become a mainstay in regions with water scarcity."
The new plant will be built on 35 acres of land currently farmed with salt-tolerant crops, with the potential of growing to a 70-acre site. This land that will house the solar desalination facility is a fraction of the total 6,000 acres currently used to manage and reuse irrigation drainage water for the Panoche Water District and other participating water districts. HydroRevolution will treat this water in order to recycle unusable irrigation water, thereby providing a new, local source of freshwater to offset the loss of imported water into the region.
“Given the trend of highly uncertain inputs from the Delta, we need to develop a reliable supply of water in the Central Valley. This is a sustainable solution that can provide a substantial amount of additional water,” said Panoche Water and Drainage District’s manager, Dennis Falaschi, “After seeing the results form the demonstration plant by WaterFX, we’re eager to get the HydroRevolution plant online quickly and optimistic about seeing others replicate what we’re doing here. There is an enormous resource of subsurface water that can be utilized.”
HydroRevolution ultimately will be able to generate up to 5,000 acre-ft of water per year, enough water for 10,000 homes or 2,000 acres of cropland. All freshwater generated will be made available to Panoche and other nearby water districts. The HydroRevolution plant will utilize the Aqua4 technology developed by WaterFX. The system is a concentrated solar still that uses large solar arrays to capture solar thermal energy from the sun. The sun heats mineral oil that then flows to the Multi-effect Distillation system (MED) that evaporates freshwater from the source water. More than 90% of the freshwater is recovered in this process while the briny remainder can be further treated to produce minerals and salts as useable solid co-products.