WO2010073039A2 - A distillation apparatus - Google Patents

A distillation apparatus Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2010073039A2
WO2010073039A2 PCT/GB2009/051761 GB2009051761W WO2010073039A2 WO 2010073039 A2 WO2010073039 A2 WO 2010073039A2 GB 2009051761 W GB2009051761 W GB 2009051761W WO 2010073039 A2 WO2010073039 A2 WO 2010073039A2
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
unit
fluid
distillation
condenser
heat
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/GB2009/051761
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2010073039A3 (en
Inventor
Mark Christian Hardiman
George Andrew Papaeliopoulos
Original Assignee
Mark Christian Hardiman
George Andrew Papaeliopoulos
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GB0823460.1 priority Critical
Priority to GB0823460A priority patent/GB2466500A/en
Application filed by Mark Christian Hardiman, George Andrew Papaeliopoulos filed Critical Mark Christian Hardiman
Publication of WO2010073039A2 publication Critical patent/WO2010073039A2/en
Publication of WO2010073039A3 publication Critical patent/WO2010073039A3/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A01AGRICULTURE; FORESTRY; ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; HUNTING; TRAPPING; FISHING
    • A01GHORTICULTURE; CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLES, FLOWERS, RICE, FRUIT, VINES, HOPS OR SEAWEED; FORESTRY; WATERING
    • A01G9/00Cultivation in receptacles, forcing-frames or greenhouses; Edging for beds, lawn or the like
    • A01G9/24Devices or systems for heating, ventilating, regulating temperature, illuminating, or watering, in greenhouses, forcing-frames, or the like
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01DSEPARATION
    • B01D1/00Evaporating
    • B01D1/14Evaporating with heated gases or vapours or liquids in contact with the liquid
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01DSEPARATION
    • B01D3/00Distillation or related exchange processes in which liquids are contacted with gaseous media, e.g. stripping
    • B01D3/02Distillation or related exchange processes in which liquids are contacted with gaseous media, e.g. stripping in boilers or stills
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B01PHYSICAL OR CHEMICAL PROCESSES OR APPARATUS IN GENERAL
    • B01DSEPARATION
    • B01D5/00Condensation of vapours; Recovering volatile solvents by condensation
    • B01D5/0057Condensation of vapours; Recovering volatile solvents by condensation in combination with other processes
    • B01D5/006Condensation of vapours; Recovering volatile solvents by condensation in combination with other processes with evaporation or distillation
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F1/00Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage
    • C02F1/02Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage by heating
    • C02F1/04Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage by heating by distillation or evaporation
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F1/00Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage
    • C02F1/02Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage by heating
    • C02F1/04Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage by heating by distillation or evaporation
    • C02F1/048Purification of waste water by evaporation
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F1/00Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage
    • C02F1/02Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage by heating
    • C02F1/04Treatment of water, waste water, or sewage by heating by distillation or evaporation
    • C02F1/08Thin film evaporation
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C02TREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02FTREATMENT OF WATER, WASTE WATER, SEWAGE, OR SLUDGE
    • C02F2103/00Nature of the water, waste water, sewage or sludge to be treated
    • C02F2103/08Seawater, e.g. for desalination
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02ATECHNOLOGIES FOR ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02A20/00Water conservation; Efficient water supply; Efficient water use
    • Y02A20/124Water desalination
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02ATECHNOLOGIES FOR ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02A40/00Adaptation technologies in agriculture, forestry, livestock or agroalimentary production
    • Y02A40/10Adaptation technologies in agriculture, forestry, livestock or agroalimentary production in agriculture
    • Y02A40/25Greenhouse technology, e.g. cooling systems therefor
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02WCLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION TECHNOLOGIES RELATED TO WASTEWATER TREATMENT OR WASTE MANAGEMENT
    • Y02W10/00Technologies for wastewater treatment
    • Y02W10/30Wastewater or sewage treatment systems using renewable energies
    • Y02W10/37Wastewater or sewage treatment systems using renewable energies using solar energy

Abstract

The present invention relates to distillation apparatuses. In particular, the present inventions relates to a distillation apparatus for use in a distillation process such as desalination process, a process for the removal of contaminates from water or a solvent, waste water separation process and process for the production of water and salt.

Description

A Distillation Apparatus
DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to distillation apparatuses. In particular, the present invention relates to a distillation apparatus for use in a distillation process such as a desalination process, a process for the removal of contaminants from water or a solvent, waste water separation process and processes for the production of water and salt.
There is an ever increasing demand for water and more importantly fresh water suitable for human consumption and use, and industrial and agricultural use. This demand has been caused by the increase in the world population together with increases in economic standards which cause increases in per capita consumption. Moreover, climate changes are resulting in tropical and semi-tropical areas of the world becoming hotter, with drier areas becoming increasing arid and water stressed. Large areas of the world suffer from drought and the excessive demand on ground water can in some costal areas cause saline intrusion. Moreover, there is also a high demand for fresh water in some wet areas, such as southern Spain. Therefore, there is a need for an affordable and sustainable means of producing fresh water.
It has proven extremely difficult to provide sufficient water to grow crops in such arid and water stressed environments. There is a need for improving crop yields in such arid environments.
Furthermore, in circumstances in which a clean water supply is not easily accessible, such as on a ship, oil rig, road vehicle, remote or relatively remote land location, there is a need for production of potable water that can easily be installed and maintained. Moreover, in such circumstances, it is important that a means for producing fresh water takes up as small a space as possible whilst maximising the water output.
There is also an increasing need for the safe disposal of waste water and recycling of waste water. It is often difficult to process waste water or waste materials that are predominately water or solvent based and contain smaller quantities of contaminants, such as impurities or toxic components that require safe processing and disposal.
Many efforts have been made to produce fresh water. In particular, efforts have been directed to obtaining fresh water from saltwater from the sea. One approach is FLASH desalination which involves boiling water in a cascade series of boiling and condensation chambers at a reduced pressure. This is a complex process that requires very expensive plants that are slow to build, expensive to run, have huge maintenance issues and generate large environmental problems from carbon footprints to pollution.
Another approach for obtaining fresh water from saltwater is reverse osmosis. The process required for reverse osmosis is extremely expensive, it is slow to build, expensive to run and has many maintenance issues that also generate environmental problems. The high operating costs are partially due to the use of large amounts of fossil fuel (either directly or indirectly). Moreover, the high chemical requirements to pre- and post-treat the water with various chemicals is costly and also requires the need to dispose of potential harmful residues. Moreover, the process is not completely efficient because some potentially harmful residues are known to remain in the water.
An attempt to improve crop yields in hot climates is the placing of water soaked pads across entrances, such as doors and windows, where there is an airflow to reduce temperatures and hot areas by the effect of evaporative cooling.
A further approach to produce fresh water is to use passive solar stills that use concave mirrors to receive sunlight and then heat the seawater or sealed greenhouses that trap sunlight, heat seawater within the greenhouse and condense fresh water on cooler surfaces for collection. These are on a small scale and rely purely on natural evaporation and condensation process in angled sealed containers. The efficiency of the passive solar stills is not sufficient to reproduce on a large scale.
The disadvantage of these systems is that there are great losses and inefficiencies in the evaporation and condensation of the water. Moreover, there are difficulties scaling the process to a size that can deliver commercially useful volumes of distilled water. Passive solar heating systems do not evaporate adequate water for large scale commercial use due to the high energy requirement to overcome the heat of evaporation of water.
In an attempt to address the need for fresh water in an agricultural environment, the Seawater Greenhouse was designed (see Davies, P.A. and C. Paton The Seawater Greenhouse and the Watermaker Condenser International Conference on Heat Powered Cycles. Cyprus 2004). This used the concept of evaporative cooling by evaporating sea water warmed in overhead pipes within the growing area of the greenhouse to cool the inner air of the greenhouse and prior to the expulsion to the air condensing a fraction of the water vapour it is carrying. The condensation is carried out on piping carrying the input sea water. The condensed distilled water can be used for internal irrigation. The Paton Seawater Greenhouse was used in arid costal areas. It was found to be fairly inefficient and difficult to control the environment within the greenhouse. It did not extend to the principles for water production or distillation efficiencies.
Therefore, there remains a need for a self irrigation greenhouse that can be used to produce adequate water whilst at the same time maintaining an optimum growing environment for the plants within the greenhouse.
There is a need for a distillation apparatus that can be easily manufactured, stored, installed and maintained at a low cost yet also provides sufficient rate of distillation that can be controlled to meet the needs of the intended use.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a distillation apparatus that overcomes or mitigates some or all of the above disadvantages.
The present invention further relates to condensers. In particular, the present invention relates to a condenser for use in a desalination process, distillation process, waste fluid separation process/unit or self-irrigating greenhouse.
Condensers that transform vapour to liquid are well known. However, such condensers normally require complex processes having intricate designs which are difficult and expensive to manufacture and maintain. Moreover, such condensers are typically made from materials that are liable to corrosion, heavy and difficult to handle.
Condensers are known in the form of a plurality of tubes in which cold fluid flows within the tubes such that fluid vapour coming into contact with the surface of the tubes condenses thereon. These condensers are easily broken or damaged during installation and use. When such condensers are made of glass, such breakages can produce sharp pieces of glass that are a safety issue. The disadvantage of such condensers is that not all of the surface area of the condenser is positioned adjacent to the fluid flowing through the tubes, which means that there is a tendency for hot and cold spots to form across the surface of the condenser thereby reducing its efficiency.
A known condenser is in the form of two sheets of plastic, heat sealed together at intervals to form a plurality of tubes with spaces between the tubes. Such condensers require higher pressure of fluid to ensure that the tubes are filled adequately. Moreover, the flimsy nature of the sheets of plastic means that the condenser as a whole is prone to being punctured or damaged such that they are no longer fluid tight.
There is a need for a condenser that can be easily manufactured, stored, installed and maintained at a low cost. There is also a need for a condenser that is not detrimental to the environment. There is a further need for a robust condenser.
It is an object of the present invention to provide a condenser that overcomes or mitigates some or all of the above disadvantages.
For the avoidance of any doubt, the following terms are intended to have the definitions as outlined below:
Distillation is a process of purifying liquid by evaporation and condensation successively.
A distillation apparatus is any suitable apparatus that can purify liquid by evaporation and condensation successively. ΔT is the temperature differential between the heated fluid leaving an evaporator and the cooling fluid entering a condenser.
Fresh or distilled water is water in which virtually all of the impurities have been removed. Fresh or distilled water can be consumed or utilised without risk of immediate or long term harm. It must be of appropriately high quality that it can be used for drinking, washing or irrigation.
A heat unit is any device that can heat a fluid, store a heated and or convey a heated fluid.
An evaporator unit is any device that absorbs heat such that a fluid can be converted from a liquid to a gas.
A condenser unit is any device that reduces gases or vapours to a liquid form.
An inlet conduit is any apparatus that can receive fluid into a unit. The inlet conduit can be a single component or an apparatus formed of a plurality of components. The inlet conduit may form part of the unit. The inlet conduit may have a number of intakes that can be connected to the same or different fluid sources. In particular, the inlet conduit may receive fluid in the form of a spray.
An outlet conduit is any apparatus that can convey and/or discharge fluid from a unit. The outlet conduit can be a single component or an apparatus formed of a plurality of components. The outlet conduit may form part of the unit. The outlet conduit may have a number of outtakes that can be connected to the same or different outages that convey a fluid from a unit. In particular, the outlet conduit may discharge fluid in the form of a spray. Waste heat fluid may be produced as a by product of industrial processes.
Delivery inlet conduit of the condenser unit may be any suitable apparatus that can convey fluid into one or more of the channels of each unit. When there is one or more delivery inlet conduits, the conduits can be connected to a separate or the same fluid supplies.
Outlet conduit of the condenser unit may be any suitable apparatus that can convey fluid from one or more of the channels of each unit. When there are one or more outlet conduits, the conduits can be connected to a separate or the same fluid outflow.
A living hinge is a thin flexible bearing that joins two parts together and allowing the two parts to bend along the line of the hinge.
The spacer of the condenser unit may be of any shape provided that it achieves the function of spacing two adjacent units from one another and provides an additional fluid pathway for the condensed fluid. The spacer may be made from any suitable material. Preferably the spacer is made from a material that is strong and durable, light, recyclable, fluid and moist resistant, has good chemical resistance, has good biological resistance to contamination, and/or is bio-cleanable.
In a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a distillation apparatus comprising at least one module, each module comprising a condenser unit, a heat unit and an evaporator unit, wherein the heat unit has an inlet conduit for receiving fluid and an outlet conduit for providing the fluid to an inlet conduit of the evaporator unit; the evaporator has an inlet conduit for receiving fluid from the heat unit and an outlet conduit for removal of non- evaporated fluid; the condenser unit has an inlet conduit for receiving fluid from a source and an outlet conduit for discharge of fluid; and the inlet conduit of at least one of the condenser unit, evaporator unit or heat unit comprises two or more fluid intakes whereby fluid in one of the intakes has a higher temperature than the fluid in the other intake.
An advantage provided by distillation apparatus embodying the present invention is that the provision of two or more intakes into one of the condenser unit, heat unit or evaporator unit wherein one of the intakes has a higher temperature than the temperature of the other intake, provides a means of controlling the temperature differential (ΔT) between the fluid evaporating from the condenser and the fluid condensing on the condenser during use. This means of control increases the efficiency of the distillation apparatus and enables the regulation of the amount of distilled water produced to meet the intended use.
For example, if the evaporator has two intakes; one intake receiving fluid from the heat unit and the second intake receiving fluid from an external source having a lower temperature than the fluid supplied by the heat unit, then the amount of water or solvate produced by the distillation apparatus can be controlled. During use, if the amount of distilled water or solvate is to be increased, then the majority of the fluid supplied to the evaporator unit can be supplied by the heater unit with little or no fluid being supplied by the second intake. This means that the fluid conveyed to the evaporator unit has a higher temperature, than if more fluid was supplied from the second intake, and relative to the fluid flowing through the condenser unit. In summary, there is a greater temperature differential between the fluid flowing through the evaporator unit and the fluid flowing through the condenser unit.
Alternatively, if the amount of water produced by the distillation apparatus is to be decreased then more fluid can be provided by the second intake, which has a lower temperature than the fluid provided by the heat unit, thereby reducing the overall temperature of fluid provided to the evaporator unit and hence decreasing the temperature differential between the fluid flowing through the evaporator unit and the fluid flowing through the condenser.
Moreover, the air temperature, humidity, air flow, water flow rate and amount of sunlight available will also have an effect on the temperature of the fluid flowing through the evaporator unit and the fluid flowing through the condenser and subsequently the amount of water produced by the distillation apparatus. The two or more inputs can be used to control the temperature differential between the fluid flowing through the evaporator unit and the fluid flowing through the condenser and ensure that the amount of water produced can be maintained at a constant rate or altered to meet the demand.
Such an arrangement also provides a distillation apparatus that can be easily manufactured, stored, installed and maintained at a low cost.
Preferably the two or more fluid intakes of at least one of the condensed unit, evaporator unit or heat unit are adapted to receive fluid from different sources. The advantage provided is that different sources can easily provide fluid at different temperatures such that they provide a simple means of controlling the temperature of the fluid conveyed into each of the units so that the temperature differential between the water evaporating from the evaporator and condensing at the condenser can be controlled in an easy and cost effective manner.
Advantageously, the inlet conduit of any one of the units has two or more intakes, and the inlet comprises one or more valves, preferably a mixer valve, to control the volume of water from each of the intakes being conveyed into the relevant unit. This provides a simple arrangement for manufacture, installation and maintenance in a cost effective manner.
Preferably the evaporator outlet conduit provides the non-evaporated fluid to the condenser unit. As fluid passes through the evaporator unit, it will cool and therefore provide a relatively cold fluid to the condenser conduit. This can reduce the amount of fluid required to maintain the distillation apparatus, thereby increasing the efficiency.
Advantageously the outlet conduit of the evaporator unit provides at least a portion of non-evaporated fluid to the heat unit. The outlet conduit of the evaporator unit may provide all of the non-evaporated fluid to the heat unit. This enables the non-evaporated fluid to re-enter the evaporation and condensation process to distil a greater amount of the fluid that enters the apparatus.
More advantageously, the evaporator outlet provides at least a portion of the non-evaporated fluid to the heat unit of the module and/or one or more heat units of further modules of the distillation apparatus. The outlet conduit of the evaporator unit may provide all of the non-evaporated fluid to a heat unit of a further module. This enables the majority of the fluid that has entered the distillation apparatus to be distilled in a single module and/or a series of modules.
For example, such an arrangement may be used to desalinate sea water such that distilled water is produced as well as a highly concentrated brine solution that can readily be crystallised to form salt. Advantageously, the outlet conduit of one or more of the condenser unit, heat unit or evaporator unit comprises two or more outtakes. The outtakes enable fluid being discharged from a unit to be conveyed in more than one direction.
Preferably one or more of the condenser unit, heat unit or evaporator unit comprise one or more exit pipes that can convey the fluid discharged from the respective unit to an external storage or drainage system. More preferably, the one or more exit pipes can be attached to the one or more outtakes of an outlet conduit of a unit. All of the fluid discharged from the evaporator unit may be carried out through one or more exit pipes for drainage. Alternatively, a portion of the fluid could be conveyed to one or more drainage pipes and a portion of the fluid may be conveyed, directly or indirectly, to one of the other units.
For example, all of the non-evaporated fluid from the evaporator unit may be carried out through one or more exit pipes for drainage. Alternatively, a portion of the fluid could be conveyed to one or more drainage pipes and a portion of the fluid could be provided, directly or indirectly, to a heat unit and/or a condenser unit.
The need for an exit pipe for any one of the heat unit, evaporator unit and condenser unit will depend upon the intended use of the distillation apparatus.
Preferably the exit pipe is connected to an outlet conduit or one or more outtakes of an outlet conduit by a valve. The valve controls the direction in which the fluid flows from the unit.
Advantageously, the exit pipe has one or more energy recovering devices to derive energy from the exiting fluid. Such energy recovering devices are known in the art. For example, the energy recovering device may be an impeller that can drive an input pump (discussed in more detail later).
Preferably, each module comprises one or more valves that control the flow of fluid into and out of one or more of the heat unit, evaporator unit and condenser unit. Advantageously, the valves connect two or more of the intakes or outtakes of a respective inlet or outlet conduit such that the fluids entering a respective unit can be mixed prior to or on entry into the unit and/or the fluid exiting a respective unit can be conveyed in separated such that it can be directed along separate fluid pathways.
Advantageously, the fluid is carried by a connector pipe from one unit to another unit, directly or indirectly. The connector pipe can be of any size or orientation. This will depend upon the intended use of the distillation apparatus. The connector pipe will be of any suitable material that is light weight, easy to manufacture and maintain and ensures that the materials do not get covered with a bio-film to ensure that they can be used for a long period of time.
Preferably, the connector pipes are connected to the relevant units via the inlet conduits and/or outlet conduits. The connector pipes are attached to the inlet and outlet conduits in a simple arrangement that is easy to manufacture, install and maintain.
Advantageously, the connector pipe indirectly connects one unit to another unit such that there is a one or more heat exchangers positioned between the respective units. The heat exchanger can decrease or increase the temperature of the fluid that enters the heat exchanger. This will depend upon the destination of the fluid. For example, a heat exchanger positioned between the evaporator unit and the heat unit increases the temperature of the fluid.
Alternatively, the heat exchanger is positioned between a unit and the exit pipe. The heat exchanger can decrease or increase the temperature of the fluid that enters the heat exchanger. This will depend upon the destination of the fluid. For example, a heat exchanger positioned between any of the heat unit, evaporator unit and condenser unit and a respective exit pipe may decrease the temperature of the fluid. The advantage of this is that the waste water from the distillation apparatus does not affect the external environment. The heat energy can be harvested and used to drive other parts of the apparatus, for example input pumps.
The connector pipes may also have one or more energy recovering devices to derive energy from the fluid flowing within the connector pipe. The number of energy recovering devices will depend on the amount of energy required to be inputted into the apparatus.
Advantageously, the one or more of the inlets of the heat unit, evaporator unit and condenser unit have a filter to remove unwanted particulates. This will ensure that the fluid flow throughout the module is not impeded.
The inlet conduits, outlet conduits, exit pipes and connector pipes are made of any suitable material. Preferably, inlet conduits, outlet conduits, exit pipes and connector pipes are light weight, easy to manufacture, install and maintain, and ensure that the materials do not get covered with a bio-film, to ensure that they can be used for a long period of time.
It is to be appreciated that the arrangement of the distillation apparatus will be in any of the combinations and/or permutations outlined above. Advantageously, the heat unit is the conveyance of a fluid having a high temperature. Such an arrangement provides a simple unit that can easily be manufactured, installed and maintained in a cost effective manner.
For example, the heat unit is the provision of a pipe that conveys fluid from a hot source to the evaporator unit. The hot fluid source could be an external fluid source such as seawater. Preferably the seawater is derived from a layer of warm seawater. More preferably, the seawater is derived from the surface of the sea.
Advantageously the heat unit further comprises a heat means to heat the fluid provided to the evaporator unit. The heat means may be any suitable heat means. Preferably, the heat means is waste heat, such as the by-waste produced by industrial processes. Such waste heat may be provided by an associated industrial process or a remote industrial process. Alternatively, the heat means is a separate closed loop solar water heater that uses solar power to heat fluid provided to the evaporator.
Alternatively, the heat unit maybe in the form of an array of pipes positioned such that they can receive heat radiation from the sun and/or conductive heat from vapour that has evaporated from the evaporator unit. Such an arrangement would be advantageous in a distillation unit having a fairly large surface area, thereby providing a greater surface area within which the heat radiation and condensation heat maybe transferred from the external of the pipe to the fluid travelling within the pipe. For example, a self-irrigation greenhouse would have such a large surface area because it would require an area for agriculture. In such an arrangement, the fluid entering the array of pipes may be warm seawater from the surface of the sea. Alternatively, the fluid may be cold seawater taken from deep beneath the surface of the sea. Advantageously warm water is used so that less radiation and/or conduction energy is required to heat the water to the desired temperature for entering the evaporator unit.
Alternatively, the fluid entering the array of pipes can be heated by a separate heat means, such as waste heat or a closed loop solar water heater as outlined above.
Preferably, the temperature of the fluid provided by the heat unit is between 35° to 100°. It is to be appreciated that the temperature of the fluid will depend upon the intended use of the distillation apparatus. For example, the preferred temperature of the fluid provided in an apparatus having a full or partial volume will be between 35° to 65°. A fluid having a lower temperature may be provided because the vacuum increases the efficiency of the evaporation and condensation process. The preferred temperature of the fluid provided in an apparatus that does not have a vacuum, such as a self-irrigation greenhouse, will be between 60° to 100°. In a preferred embodiment, the heat unit provides fluid having a minimum temperature of 75° to the evaporator unit.
In an advantageous embodiment, the heat unit increases the temperature of the fluid received by the heat unit increases by between 30° to 40°. Such heating can be provided by the separate heat means, such as closed loop solar water heater or the array of pipes arrangement.
Advantageously, the heat unit has two or more intakes; one of the intakes is provided with fluid from warm seawater from the surface of the sea and a second intake is provided with fluid having a lower temperature that is supplied by seawater deep beneath the surface of the sea. The two intakes are joined by a mixer valve such that the temperature of the fluid provided to the evaporator unit can be easily controlled.
Preferably, the evaporator unit comprises a plurality of evaporative cooling pads. More preferably, the plurality of evaporative cooling pads is positioned such that the evaporative cooling pads are stacked one on top of the other in a vertical arrangement forming a vertical elongate structure. This is an advantageous arrangement when space is an issue, such as on a ship, oil rig or road vehicle.
Advantageously, the inlet conduit of the evaporator unit provides fluid to the upper most portions, when stacked vertically, of each of the evaporative cooling pads. This ensures that the entire evaporative cooling pad can be utilised such that evaporation unit has no cold spots where evaporation does not take placed.
More preferably, the fluid is provided in the form of a spray. This maybe provided by a distribution manifold to ensure even fluid distribution throughout the evaporative cooling pad.
In use, the fluid flows down the surface of the evaporative cooling pad and warm and dry air passing through the evaporative cooling pad evaporates a part of the fluid. The remainder of the fluid is non-evaporated fluid and is discharged from the evaporator unit by the outlet conduit. The heat needed for the evaporation is taken from the air itself and the air leaves the pad cold and humidified simultaneously without any external energy supply for the evaporation process.
Advantageously, the evaporator unit has three or more intakes; one of the intakes is provided with fluid from the heat unit, a second intake is provide with warm seawater from the surface of the sun and a third intake is provided with fluid having a lower temperature that is supplied by seawater deep beneath the surface of the sea. Two or more of the intakes may be joined by a mixer valve such that the temperature of the fluid provided to the evaporator unit can be easily controlled.
The evaporator unit may be formed of any suitable material such as cellulose, paper, cellulose fibre or plastic. It is to be appreciated that the intended use will determine the most appropriate material for the evaporator unit.
In a preferred embodiment, the evaporative cooling pad is commercially known such as a CELdek® Evaporative Cooling Pad provided by Munters that is in the form of a specifically impregnated and corrugated cellulose paper sheets with different flute angles one step (approximately 6°) and one flat (approximately 30°) that have been bonded together. This design enables a cooling pad with high evaporative efficiency while still operating with a very low pressure drop. However, it is envisaged that other commercially known evaporator pads will be used that provides a large surface area for the water to air interface of the evaporator unit.
It is appreciated that any suitable evaporative cooling pad will provide a high evaporative efficiency, a low pressure drop when wet, require low operative conditions, no water carry over, self cleaning, strong and self supporting, long life span, low running costs, quick and easy to install, and environmentally friendly.
Preferably, the temperature of the fluid received by the evaporator unit is between 35°C to 100°C. It is to be appreciated that the temperature of the fluid will depend upon the intended use of the distillation apparatus. For example, the preferred temperature of the fluid provided in an apparatus having a full or partial volume will be between 35°C to 65°C. A fluid having a lower temperature may be provided because the vacuum increases the efficiency of the evaporation and condensation process. The preferred temperature of the fluid provided in an apparatus that does not have a vacuum, such as a self-irrigation greenhouse, will be between 60°C to 100°C. In a preferred embodiment, the heat unit provides fluid having a minimum temperature of 75°C degrees to the evaporator unit.
It is to be appreciated that the temperature of the fluid may be determined by the temperature of the fluid provided by the heat unit only or the temperature of the fluid provided by the heat unit and one or more further inputs. The temperature of the fluid received by the evaporator unit will depend upon the temperature of the fluid supplied to the condenser unit to ensure that the desired temperature differential between the two is achieved.
Advantageously, the condenser unit comprises a simple arrangement in which a plurality of channels is provided through which fluid passes along the condensers. The fluid within the condenser being of lower temperature than that of the vaporised air from the evaporator unit such that the vapour will condense on the surface of the evaporator and pass down into a trough for storage.
Advantageously, the condenser unit has two or more intakes; one of the intakes is provided with fluid from warm seawater from the surface of the sun and a second intake is provided with fluid having a lower temperature that is supplied by seawater deep beneath the surface of the sea. The two intakes may be joined by a mixer valve such that the temperature of the fluid provided to the evaporator unit can be easily controlled. Preferably, the temperature of the fluid received by the condenser unit is between 1 °C to 40°C. It is to be appreciated that the temperature of the fluid will depend upon the intended use of the distillation apparatus. For example, the preferred temperature of the fluid provided in an apparatus having a full or partial volume will be between 30°C to 40°C. A fluid having a higher temperature may be provided because the vacuum increases the efficiency of the evaporation and condensation process. The preferred temperature of the fluid provided in an apparatus that does not have a vacuum, such as a self- irrigation greenhouse, will be between 1 °C to 30°C.
The temperature of the fluid received by the condenser unit will depend upon the temperature of the fluid supplied to the evaporator unit to ensure that the desired temperature differential between the two can be achieved.
In a preferred embodiment, the condenser comprises, consists essentially of, or consists of at least one unit having a first end and a second end; each unit comprising two opposing walls defining a cavity therebetween and at least one interconnecting wall positioned within the cavity between the two walls to form a plurality of elongate channels; each channel providing an internal passage defining a fluid flow path through the unit from the first end to the second end; an inlet delivery conduit adapted to deliver fluid to at least one end of one or more of the channels at or near the first end of the unit; and an outlet conduit adapted to receive fluid flowing from at least one end of one or more of the channels at or near the second end of the unit.
An advantage provided by such condensers is that the arrangement of the opposing walls and interconnecting wall imparts a structural rigidity to the condenser. Such an arrangement also provides a condenser that can be easily manufactured, installed and maintained at a low cost. The installation and maintenance can be carried out by unskilled labourers. Preferably, the inlet delivery conduit of each condenser unit and the inlet conduit receiving fluid from the heat unit or the heat unit and one or more external sources are a single component. Alternatively, the inlet delivery conduit of each condenser unit and the inlet conduit receiving fluid from the heat unit or the heat unit and one or more external sources are separate components connected to one another.
Preferably, the outlet conduit of each condenser unit discharging fluid from the channels and the outlet conduit discharging fluid from the condenser unit as a whole are a single component. Alternatively, the outlet conduit of each condenser unit discharging fluid from the channels and the outlet conduit discharging fluid from the condenser unit as a whole are separate components connected to one another.
In an advantageous embodiment, the opposing walls are parallel to one another and the interconnecting walls are straight. The interconnecting walls may be in the form of one or more straight segments joined at one or more points. Such arrangements ensure that substantially all of the surface area of the external surface of each unit is proximate to the fluid flow in a channel during use; thereby the surface area of each unit does not form hot and cold spots during use.
In an alternative advantageous embodiment, the opposing walls are planar and parallel to one another and the interconnecting walls are straight having a transverse cross section in the shape of a parallelogram, trapezium, square, rectangle or triangle. Any shape of cross section is envisaged. Preferably, the opposing walls are parallel to one another and each interconnecting wall is substantially perpendicular to each of the opposing walls forming channels having a traverse cross section in the shape of a square or rectangle. These specific arrangements also ensure that substantially all of the surface area of the external surface of each unit is proximate to the flow of fluid in a channel during use; thereby the surface area of each unit does not form hot and cold spots during use.
In a further embodiment the opposing walls may be non-planar and parallel to one another and the interconnecting walls are straight. Such an arrangement also ensures that substantially all of the surface area of the external surface of each unit is proximate to the fluid flow in a channel during use. The arrangement means that the surface area of each unit does not form hot and cold spots during use.
Alternatively, the traverse cross section of the channels is a different polygonal shape, such as a triangle; or in the shape of a circle or ovoid.
In a preferred embodiment, the external surface of one or both of the planar or non-planar opposing walls is formed so as to be rough and/or to have protrusions and indentations to provide a larger surface area on which vapour may condense. Any shape of structure to provide a rough surface and/or protrusions and indentations on the surface is envisaged. Alternatively, the external surface is smooth. A smooth surface is easier and cheaper to manufacture.
Preferably, the internal surface of the channels is smooth to ensure a substantially uniform temperature along the entire length of the channel and across the walls of the channel.
Advantageously, the opposing walls are thin to ensure that a high differential between the temperature of the external surface and the vapour entering the condenser can be maintained. Advantageously, the opposing walls have a thickness of 0.5 to 5mnn. More advantageously, the opposing walls have a thickness of 1 to 3 mm.
Preferably, the opposing walls and interconnecting walls are integral with one another. The walls can be in the form of a single piece or a plurality of components that are fixed to one another. The integral character of the walls imparts a higher structural rigidity to the condenser.
Advantageously the opposing walls and/or the interconnecting walls are formed of polypropylene, copolymers of polypropylene or other variants thereof. More advantageously, the opposing walls and/or interconnecting walls are formed of medium density polypropylene.
Polypropylene is a material that has high flexural strength ensuring that the rigid structure is flexible, thereby ensuring that the units are not easily damaged during installation and use. Condenser units formed from polypropylene are strong and durable, light, recyclable, fluid and moist resistant, and have good chemical resistance and biological resistance to contamination. Moreover, polypropylene is a good heat conductor.
Alternatively, the opposing walls and/or interconnecting walls may be formed from any material such as metal or any other rigid plastic. It is envisaged that the opposing walls and/or the interconnecting walls of the condenser may be formed from any material that has the above properties. Preferably, the opposing walls and/or interconnecting walls will be formed from a material having the same advantageous properties of polypropylene. A skilled person will appreciate that the exact material used will depend upon the use of the condenser.
Advantageously, the opposing walls and interconnecting walls are formed by extrusion. Suitable extrusion processes are known in the art and provide a simple and inexpensive means of manufacture.
In an advantageous embodiment, one or more of the units are folded to form folded sections of the unit. More advantageously, each folded section is positioned at an angle of between 1 to 179 degrees to an adjacent folded section. In a preferred embodiment the folded section between the folded sections is a living hinge. Preferably, the folded unit is held in its folded position by a clip.
Preferably, the delivery inlet conduit and/or the outlet conduit are situated at the first end and second end of the unit respectively. In such an arrangement less pressure is required to pass the fluid along the channels during use. Moreover, this arrangement enables a simple connection between the unit and the conduits.
In an alternative embodiment, the delivery inlet conduit and/or the outlet conduit are situated near to the first end and second end of the unit respectively.
In a further embodiment of the invention, each unit or each channel have separate delivery inlet conduits and/or the outlet conduits.
Preferably, the condenser further comprises a releasable fluid tight closure to cover at least a part of the inlet delivery conduit and/or the outlet conduit to prevent the fluid flow into and/or out of, respectively, one or more units during use. This permits individual units to be removed during use of the condenser for repair or replacement. Therefore, the condenser can still function whilst one or more of the units are removed for repair and maintenance. This ensures a high operating efficiency and secures a supply of condensed fluid. Moreover, the cost of replacing one or more units is substantially less than replacing the entire condenser.
Advantageously, the condenser further comprises a releasable fluid tight closure to cover at least a part of the inlet delivery conduit and/or the outlet conduit to prevent the fluid flow into and/or out of, respectively, one or more channels during use. This permits individual channels to be isolated in the event of a blockage.
More advantageously, the condenser further comprises a filter that prevents any unwanted matter from entering and/or leaving the inlet delivery conduit and outlet conduit. This ensures that the channels do not become blocked with unwanted matter thereby ensuring that fluid can flow unimpeded through the channels. More advantageously, the filter is self cleaning.
Preferably, one or more of the units further comprises a releasable end cap to cover the first and/or second end of the unit. The end cap prevents the entry of materials into the unit, thereby preventing damage to the unit when it is removed from the condenser for repair and maintenance.
In a preferred embodiment the condenser comprises a plurality of units. More preferably, the condenser further comprises at least one spacer in which each spacer is positioned between two adjacent units. Such an arrangement ensures that the adjacent units are spaced apart during use to ensure that as large a surface area of the unit as possible is available for condensation to take place. The spacer increases the overall structural rigidity of the condenser. The spacer acts by preventing adjacent units sticking together and reducing the overall available surface area, which also prevents the formation of hot and cold spots on the opposing walls. The spacer can also provide an additional flow path for the condensed vapour during use.
In a preferred embodiment, two or more spaces are positioned between the same adjacent units. Such an arrangement ensures that the units are separated over their entire area from one end to the second end.
Preferably, each spacer is fixed to one of the adjacent units or to both of the adjacent units thereby defining a fluid passageway. The overall structural rigidity of the condenser is increased by fixing the spacer to one or both of the adjacent units. Moreover, the fluid passageway provides a simple and efficient means of directing the condensed vapour to an appropriate outflow area.
Advantageously, the spacer has a first and a second end, the first end being elevated with respect to the second end. Such an elevation increases the flow rate of the condensed fluid to the outflow area during use.
In preferred embodiments, the spacer is in a single plane or in step-like arrangement. The spacer may be a planar platform extending between adjacent units or curved to provide and open conduit for the flow of condensed vapour during use.
In a preferred embodiment, an axis running from the one end to the second end of each unit is in a substantially vertical orientation. In such an arrangement, during use, one end of the unit is positioned at the top and the second end is at the bottom such that the fluid can flow upwards and/or downwards through the channels. Preferably, in such an orientation, the units are tall and relatively thin such that less ground space is required to provide the same surface area for condensation to take place.
Advantageously, the units, during use, have a height between 1 to 3m, a width between 2 to 4m and a depth of 50cm to 1.5m.
Alternatively, an axis running from the one end to the second end of each unit is in a substantially horizontal orientation.
In an advantageous embodiment, the units are positioned parallel to one another. For example, during use, the vapour enters the condenser and moves into the spaces between the adjacent units and the vapour condenses on the external surfaces of the opposing walls of the adjacent units.
Alternatively, the units are positioned at an angle of between 1 to 179 degrees to an adjacent unit. In an advantageous embodiment the units are spaced apart and, if the axis that runs perpendicular to the direction of the channels were to meet, the angle therebetween would be between 1 to 179 degrees.
In an alternative embodiment a unit is folded to form two or more planar segments. The folded section may be a simple fold of the unit or a living hinge to form a plurality of segments. The segments may be of different sizes and more than one fold may be formed in a single unit. The angle between the segments of each unit is between 1 to 179 degrees. The angle will depend on the intended use of the condenser.
In an advantageous embodiment, the condenser further comprises a frame connected to each unit and/or the inlet conduit and/or the outlet conduit. The frame increases the structural rigidity of the condenser. The frame also enables quick and easy installation of the condenser. The frame further ensures that the units are held in a desired position with respect to one another, which will depend on the intended use of the condenser. More advantageously, the spacers may be attached to the frame.
In a preferred embodiment the condenser further comprises a trough into which the condensed fluid can flow. More preferably, the trough is positioned below the units during use. Advantageously the trough is connected to the frame.
The invention further provides a unit of the embodied invention as described above.
The invention further provides a kit comprising a condenser embodied by the invention or a plurality of units of the embodied invention. Advantageously, the kit further comprises a frame, one or more closures, one or more end caps, one or more spacers and/or one or more troughs as described above.
Advantageously, the evaporator unit is positioned adjacent to the condenser unit such that air can flow through the evaporator unit and subsequently through the condenser unit. In such an arrangement, fluid is evaporated from the evaporator unit and condenses on the surface of the condenser.
In a preferred embodiment, the air flow is provided by wind. In an alternative embodiment the air flow is provided by a fan. It is envisaged that the air flow could be provided by the wind and supplemented by a fan when necessary. In a preferred embodiment, the fan is powered by an energy recovery device of the apparatus. Advantageously the distillation apparatus further comprises a cultivation area for the cultivation of plants. Preferably, the evaporator unit and the condenser unit are spaced from one another and the cultivation area is positioned therebetween, such that the evaporator unit and condenser unit are positioned on opposing sides of the cultivation area. Alternatively, the evaporator unit and condenser unit are positioned adjacent to one other with no cultivation area therebetween. In such an arrangement, the evaporator unit is positioned between the condenser and the cultivation area and/or the condenser unit is positioned between the evaporator unit and the cultivation area.
In a further alternative embodiment, the distillation apparatus does not have a cultivation area. In such an arrangement, the evaporator unit and the condenser unit are positioned adjacent to one another. The absence of a cultivation area allows the distillation apparatus to be compact.
In all of the above orientations, the air flow can travel in any direction provided air flows through the evaporator unit and subsequently through the condenser unit. Such an arrangement ensures that the distillation process takes place.
Advantageously, the distillation apparatus further comprises a structure encompassing a module. More than one module may be encompassed by a single structure. More advantageously, the distillation apparatus further comprises a plurality of structures encompassing one or more modules. The structure provides protection for the components of the module(s) and ensures that the environment within the structure can be controlled.
Preferably, the structure comprises of a plurality of walls and a roof. More preferably, at least a portion of the roof is sloping or curved such that part of the roof is elevated with respect to another part of the roof. This arrangement ensures that condensed liquid can run down the slope or curved part of the roof into a collection gutter. The advantage provided by the sloped/curved roof is that it enables the collection of further distilled fluid within the structure. The angle of the sloping/curved roof will depend on the rate of water flow required. The gutter may run partially or fully around the perimeter of the roof.
Advantageously, the structure is in the form of a frame that is covered to provide a substantially or fully air tight structure. The frame may be made of any material that can provide a rigid structure that can withstand extremes of local ambient conditions, such as high winds. The materials of the structure must also be able to withstand fairly high temperatures. In a preferred embodiment the frame is made of plastic, metal, wood, aluminium, steel or bamboo.
Preferably, the structure is a greenhouse. The term greenhouse includes standard glass greenhouses and polytunnels. Advantageously, the greenhouse is formed of glass or plastic, which is easy to manufacture, install and maintain. In a preferred embodiment the frame is made of plastic, metal, wood, aluminium, steel or bamboo.
Advantageously, one of the walls of the structure is an evaporator unit. Such an arrangement is advantageous because it means that air can flow from the outside of the structure through the evaporator into the structure, negating the need for a fan. Alternatively, or in combination, one or more fans may be provided that drive air through the evaporator unit.
Alternatively, the evaporator unit is positioned within the walls of the structure. In such an arrangement, a fan or ventilation system enabling air, driven by wind, from outside of the structure is provided to drive air through the evaporator unit. Preferably, the condenser unit is positioned within the walls of the structure. In such an arrangement, a fan or ventilation system enabling air to pass to outside of the structure is provided to pull air through the condenser unit. Alternatively, one of the walls of the structure is the condenser. The flow of fluid may pass through the condenser by fans that either push the air through the condenser or pull the air out of the condenser.
Advantageously, the evaporator and the condenser form opposing walls of the structure such that air can flow from outside of the structure through the evaporator unit and subsequently through the condenser unit to the outside of the structure. Fans maybe provided or the flow of air can be provided by a strong wind.
Preferably, the heat unit is external to the structure. This has the advantage that the heat unit does not provide unnecessary heat to the internal environment of the structure. For example, if the structure is a greenhouse, it may not be beneficial to have the unit inside the greenhouse causing unnecessary heat or necessitating more control of the heat within the greenhouse.
In an advantageous embodiment the structure is air tight. Preferably, the structure has a partial or a full vacuum. Such an arrangement increases the rate of the evaporation and condensation process within the structure.
Advantageously the partial or full vacuum is formed by an aspirator or a series of aspirators.
Preferably, the aspirators have a simple form and are driven by the flow of fluid therethrough. Such aspirators are easily manufacture, installed and maintained at a low cost. The aspirator may be formed by metal, or heavy duty polythene, or any other material that provides sufficient structural rigidity and is easy to manufacture, install and maintain. It is important that the aspirator is non-conductive (preventing electrostatic build up), easy to cast and resistance to bio-film formation. In a preferred embodiment, the aspirator is made of metal, plastic, polymer or ceramic material.
Advantageously, the fluid that drives the aspirator can be applied by fluid discharged from the condenser unit; and/or evaporator unit; and/or one or more of the heat exchangers. This provides a simple arrangement that does easy to maintain.
Preferably the aspirator is positioned such that it can pull air through the condenser. Advantageously, the aspirator is positioned within the structure. In an alternative embodiment the aspirator is positioned external to the structure. The position of the aspirator will depend on the location of the fluid supply that drives the aspirator.
Advantageously, the distillation apparatus further comprises one or more pumps to ensure circulation of fluid through the system. Preferably, the pumps are driven by the energy derived from the energy recovering devices that are positioned throughout the distillation apparatus.
Preferably, there is an auxiliary initiator pump that initiates the flow of fluid through the aspirator. Such a pump may only be used for a few minutes in order to create adequate air flow and the partial vacuum at the start of operation. In advantageous embodiment, the evaporate unit and condenser unit substantially fill the space within the structure. The distillation apparatus does not have a cultivation area. Such an arrangement ensures that the distillation apparatus is compact.
In a preferred embodiment the distillation apparatus is portable.
In an advantageous embodiment, the distillation apparatus as describe above is a desalination self irrigation greenhouse.
It is to be appreciated that each module may include one or more heat units, one or more evaporator units and one or more condenser units.
The invention further provides a condenser unit of the embodied invention as described above. The invention further provides a module of the embodied invention as described above. The invention further provides a heat unit of the embodied invention as described above. The invention further provides an evaporator unit of the embodied invention as described above.
The invention further provides a kit comprising a distillation apparatus embodied by the invention or a plurality of modules of the embodied invention. Advantageously, the kit further comprises a structure as described above.
A further aspect of the invention is the use of the distillation unit, module, condenser or kit of the embodied invention in a desalination process, a desalination self irrigation greenhouse, processing of waste or toxic fluids, removal of containments from a fluid, sewage treatment, water treatment, chemical plant and outflows, petrol chemical outflow, mining, gas and oil extraction, high technology plants, for example semi conductive fabrication plants, safe removal of distillate for reuse or discarding, production of distilled water, production of mineralised water, microbrewery, and production of salt.
By removing excess water or solvent safely, efficiently and cheaply, the resulting concentrated waste can be more efficiently processed and usually at a reduced cost as much of the pumping, transport, etc. costs are reduced by removing most of the water/solvent from the toxic waste i.e. the majority of the weight and volume. Such a process would be useful for sewage treatment, water treatment, chemical plant outflows, petrol chemical outflow, mining, gas and oil extract and high technology plants, e.g. semi conductive fabrication plants. This will enable the distillate to be safely reused or discarded. It is well known to attempt to make fresh water from sea water.
Figure 1 is a first embodiment of a distillation apparatus in accordance with the present invention;
Figure 2 is an alternative embodiment of a distillation apparatus in accordance with the present invention;
Figure 3 is an alternative embodiment of the distillation apparatus in accordance with the present invention;
Figure 4 is an alternative embodiment of a distillation apparatus in accordance with the present invention;
Figure 5 is a fluid flow diagram of a distillation apparatus in accordance with the embodiments of figures 1 to 3;
Figure 6 is an alternative fluid flow diagram of a distillation apparatus in accordance with the embodiments of figures 1 to 3; Figure 7 is a fluid flow diagram of a distillation apparatus in accordance with the embodiment of figure 4;
Figure 8 is an alternative diagram showing the flow of fluid through the embodiment illustrated in figure 4;
Figures 9a to 9c are alternative fluid flow diagrams of a condenser unit in accordance with the embodiments of figures 1 to 8;
Figures 10a to 10f are alternative fluid flow diagrams of a evaporator unit in accordance with the embodiments of figures 1 to 8;
Figures 11 a to 11 h are alternative fluid flow diagrams of the heat unit in accordance with the embodiments of figures 1 to 8;
Figure 12 is a fluid flow diagram of an alternative distillation apparatus in accordance with the present invention;
Figures 13a to b are alternative embodiments of a distillation apparatus in accordance with the present invention; and
Figure 14 is a fluid flow diagram of a distillation apparatus in accordance with the embodiment of figures 13a to b;
Figure 15 is a first embodiment of a condenser in accordance with the present invention;
Figures 16a to 16e are transverse cross sections of channels in accordance with alternative embodiments of the condenser of figure 15; Figure 17 is an alternative embodiment of a condenser in accordance with the present invention; and
Figure 18 is alternative embodiment of a condenser in accordance with the present invention.
As illustrated in figure 1 , a first embodiment of a distillation apparatus (1 ) comprises at least one module, each module comprising a heat unit (2) an evaporator unit (3) and a condenser unit (4), wherein the heat unit (2) has an inlet conduit (5) for receiving fluid and an outlet conduit (6) for providing the fluid to an inlet conduit (7) of the evaporator unit; the evaporator unit (3) has an inlet conduit (7) for receiving fluid from the heat unit (2) and an outlet conduit (8) for removal of non-evaporated fluid; the condenser unit (3) has an inlet conduit (9) for receiving fluid from a source and an outlet conduit (10) for removal of fluids; and the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2) comprises two fluid intakes (11 ) whereby fluid in one of the intakes (11 ) has a higher temperature than the fluid in the other intake (11 ).
In the illustrated embodiment of figure 1 , the heat unit (2) has two fluid intakes; one of the fluid intakes (11 ) having a higher temperature than the fluid in the second intake (11 ). It is envisaged that one or both of the inlet conduits (7, 9) of the evaporator unit (3) and condenser unit (4) respectively have two or more intakes such that one of the fluid in one of the intakes has a higher temperature than the fluid in the other intake. It is further envisaged that the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2) has further additional intakes.
Alternatively, it is envisaged that the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (5) may have a single intake and one or both of the inlet conduits (7, 9) of the evaporator unit (3) and condenser unit (4) respectively have two or more intakes such that one of the fluid in one of the intakes has a higher temperature than the fluid in the other intake.
The further intakes may provide fluid having a lower or higher temperature than the fluid provided in the other intakes.
As shown in figure 1 , the two intakes (11 ) of the heat unit (2) enter a mixing valve (12) that can control the flow of fluid from one of the intakes in comparison to the second intake. Alternatively, the intakes (11 ) could be two separate intakes that both provide fluid separately to the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2). Such valve arrangements are also envisaged for the inlet conduits (7, 9) of the evaporator unit (3) and condenser unit (4) respectively.
In the embodiment of figure 1 , the outlet conduit (6) of the heat unit (2) provides the fluid to the evaporator in the form of a spray. A spray is provided all the way along the length of the evaporator to ensure that a uniform amount of fluid is supplied. The outlet is adapted to ensure that it can provide the fluid in the form of a spray.
The evaporator unit (3) is in the form of three evaporative cooling pads (13) that have been stacked one on top of the other in a vertical arrangement. This ensures that only a small amount of floor space is required in order to provide a large surface area for evaporation. In an alternative embodiment, one or more evaporative cooling pads (13) form the condenser. It is envisaged that the plurality of evaporative cooling pads may not be stacked one on top of the other.
The outlet conduit (6) of the heat unit (2) has outtakes that run adjacent to the top edge of each of the evaporative cooling pads (13) to ensure that the fluid can be sprayed at the top of each pad (13) to provide a uniform flow of fluid down the pad (13), thereby providing an the optimum rate of evaporation.
As illustrated in figure 1 , the module comprising the heat unit (2), evaporator unit (3) and condenser unit (4) is positioned within/encompassed by a structure (14). The structure is substantially air tight such that the flow of air into and out of the structure can be controlled. Alternatively, the structure may be fully airtight.
The plurality of units (2, 3, 4) have been positioned parallel to one another to allow vapour evaporating from the evaporator unit (3) to travel across to and through the condenser unit (4) for condensation to take place. The condenser unit (4) has a trough (15) to collect the condensed vapour and carry it to an external storage tank or distribution unit.
In use, the intakes (11 ) provide fluid to the mixer valve (12) of the inlet conduit (5) to allow fluid to enter the inlet conduit. The inlet conduit provides the fluid to the top end of each of the evaporative cooling pads (13). The fluid flows down each evaporative cooling pad (13) and air that travels in the direction of arrow A passes through the evaporative cooling pad and carries the evaporated vapour to and through the condenser unit (4). The non- evaporated fluid travels into the outlet conduit (6) (8). Fluid from an external source is provided to the inlet conduit (9) of the condenser unit (4) and travels up the condenser unit (4) in the direction of arrow B and out into the outlet conduit (10). The condensed vapour is collected in a trough (15) where it is conveyed to a storage tank or to a distribution system for the intended use.
As illustrated in figure 1 , the dual intakes (11 ) into the heat unit (2) enable the temperature of the water entering the evaporator unit (3) to be controlled which therefore means the temperature differential between the fluid entering the condenser unit (4) and the water entering the evaporator unit (3) can be controlled. It is envisaged that the evaporator unit (3) and/or condenser unit (4) may also have two or more intakes such that the temperature of fluid provided to the condenser unit (4) can be controlled and/or the temperature of fluid provided to the evaporator unit (3) can be further controlled, thereby providing greater control over the temperature differential between the fluid of evaporator unit (3) and the condenser unit (4) and subsequently the amount of fluid that is being distilled.
As illustrated in figure 2, the distillation apparatus (1 ) is in the form of a desalination self irrigation greenhouse. The common features to the embodiment of figure 1 will be described with reference to the same reference numerals.
The evaporator unit (3) and the condenser unit (4), although still in a parallel arrangement, are spaced from one another to provide a cultivation area (16) between the two units for the cultivation of plants.
In use, the intakes (11 ) provide fluid to the mixer valve (12) of the inlet conduit (5) to allow fluid to enter the inlet conduit. The inlet conduit provides the fluid to the top end of each of the evaporative cooling pads (13). The fluid flows down each evaporative cooling pad (13) and air that travels in the direction of arrow A passes through the evaporative cooling pad and carries the evaporated vapour to and through the condenser unit (4).
Evaporated vapour that travels from the evaporator unit (3) to the condenser unit (4) in the direction of arrow A provides the plants being cultivated in the cultivation area (16) with a humid environment that can provide optimum conditions for plant growth. The non-evaporated fluid travels into the outlet conduit (9) (8). Fluid from an external source is provided to the inlet conduit (9) of the condenser unit (4) and travels up the condenser unit (4) in the direction of arrow B and out into the outlet conduit (10). The condensed vapour is collected in a trough (15) where it is conveyed to a storage tank or to a distribution system for the intended use.
In the illustrated embodiment of figure 2, the heat unit (2) has two fluid intakes; one of the fluid intakes (11 ) having a higher temperature than the fluid in the second intake (11 ). It is envisaged that one or both of the inlet conduits (7, 9) of the evaporator unit (3) and condenser unit (4) respectively have two or more intakes such that one of the fluid in one of the intakes has a higher temperature than the fluid in the other intake. It is further envisaged that the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2) has a further additional intakes.
Alternatively, it is envisaged that the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (5) may have a single intake and one or both of the inlet conduits (7, 9) of the evaporator unit (3) and condenser unit (4) respectively have two or more intakes such that one of the fluid in one of the intakes has a higher temperature than the fluid in the other intake.
As illustrated in figure 2, the dual intakes (11 ) into the heat unit (2) enable the temperature of the water entering the evaporator unit (3) to be controlled which therefore means the temperature differential between the fluid entering the condenser unit (4) and the water entering the evaporator unit (3) can be controlled. It is envisaged that the evaporator unit (3) and/or condenser unit (4) may also have two or more intakes such that the temperature of fluid provided to the condenser unit (4) can be controlled and/or the temperature of fluid provided to the evaporator unit (3) can be further controlled, thereby providing greater control over the temperature differential between the fluid of evaporator unit (3) and the condenser unit (4) and subsequently the amount of fluid that is being distilled together with controlling the conditions for the growth of plants.
As shown in figure 3, the distillation apparatus (1 ) is in the form of a desalination self irrigation greenhouse. The common features to the embodiment of figures 1 and 2 will be described with reference to the same reference numerals.
A condenser unit (4) and evaporator unit (3) are positioned adjacent to one another and a cultivation area (16) is positioned adjacent to the condenser unit (4), such that the condenser unit (4) is positioned between the evaporator unit (3) and the cultivation area (16). It is also envisaged that the evaporator unit
(3) may be positioned between the condenser unit (4) and the cultivation area (16). Any other arrangement of the position of the condenser unit (4) and evaporator unit (3) with respect to the cultivation area (16) are envisaged, such as the condenser unit (4) and evaporator unit (3) are positioned in the centre of the cultivation area (16). The advantage provided by these embodiments is that less pumping is required to perform the distillation process, with respect to the embodiment illustrated in figure 2, which reduces production costs, operative costs and time of installation.
As illustrated in figure 3, the dual intakes (11 ) into the heat unit (2) enable the temperature of the water entering the evaporator unit (3) to be controlled which therefore means the temperature differential between the fluid entering the condenser unit (4) and the water entering the evaporator unit (3) can be controlled. It is envisaged that the evaporator unit (3) and/or condenser unit
(4) may also have two or more intakes such that the temperature of fluid provided to the condenser unit (4) can be controlled and/or the temperature of fluid provided to the evaporator unit (3) can be further controlled, thereby providing greater control over the temperature differential between the fluid of evaporator unit (3) and the condenser unit (4) and subsequently the amount of fluid that is being distilled together with controlling the conditions for the growth of plants.
In contrast, although same control of the amount of fluid distilled in the apparatus shown in figure 3, this embodiment does not provide as tight a control on the conditions within the greenhouse for plant cultivation as the embodiment illustrated in figure 2.
In the embodiments shown in figures 1 to 3, the source of water going into each of the heat unit (2), subsequently evaporator unit (3), and the condenser unit (4) is seawater. The water entering the condenser unit (4) is seawater from deep beneath the surface of the sea. The water entering the two intakes (11 ) of heat unit (2) is seawater from deep beneath the surface of the sea and water from the surface of the sea. The deep seawater is substantially colder than the surface seawater. It is envisaged that any other suitable fluid may provide the source fluid.
As illustrated in figure 4, the distillation apparatus (1 ) is in the form of a desalination self irrigation greenhouse. The common features to the embodiment of figures 1 to 3 will be described with reference to the same reference numerals.
As shown in figure 4, the heat unit (2) is in the form of an array of pipes. The array of pipes is positioned along the roof (17) of the greenhouse structure. The array of pipes will be heated by radiation from the sun and also with the conduction of heat from humid air within the greenhouse structure. This provides a simply and cost effective means of heating the fluid conveyed through the array of pipes to a suitable temperature when provided to the evaporator unit (3).
The outlet conduits (6) of the heat unit (2) distribute the fluid to the evaporator unit (3) in the same manner as described above with regard to figures 1 to 3. In this embodiment the input conduit (5) of the heat unit (2) is connected to the outlet conduit (10) of the condenser unit (4). In such an arrangement, the fluid discharged from the outlet conduit (1 ) of the condenser unit (4) is provided to and conveyed through the array of pipes. Alternatively or in addition, the array of pipes may be provided with fluid from a separate source. The separate fluid source may be hot or cold depending upon the conditions outside the greenhouse and the conditions desired within the greenhouse structure.
For example, in sunny conditions no additional heating of water is required. However, when there is little radiation energy from the sun available, hot water may be supplied.
It is envisaged that the heat unit (2) and/or the evaporator unit (3) and/or condenser unit (4) may have two or more further intakes such that the temperature of fluid provided to the condenser unit (4) can be controlled and/or the temperature of fluid provided to the evaporator unit (3) can be further controlled, thereby providing greater control over the temperature differential between the fluid of evaporator unit (3) and the condenser unit (4) and subsequently the amount of fluid that is being distilled and cultivation conditions within the greenhouse structure.
Figure 5 illustrates a fluid flow diagram of the distillation apparatus described in figures 1 to 3 above. A fluid is received by the inlet conduit (9) (not shown) that is conveyed along an internal chamber of the condenser unit (4) and discharged by the outlet conduit (10) (not shown) in the directions of the arrows. It is to be appreciated that the fluid can flow through the condenser unit (4) in both directions.
A fluid is provided to the inlet conduit (5) (not shown) of the heat unit (2) and is discharged by the outlet conduit (6) not shown) to provide fluid to the evaporator unit (3) via the inlet conduit (7) (not shown). The non- evaporator fluid is discharged via the outlet conduit (8) (not shown) if the evaporator unit. It is to be appreciated that the evaporated fluid and condensed fluid that are formed by the evaporation and condensation process do not form part of the fluid flow diagram.
Figure 6 shows an alternative fluid flow diagram that further provides that non- evaporated fluid discharged from the evaporator unit (3) is conveyed and provided to the inlet conduit (5) (not shown) of the heat unit (2). This arrangement enables the non-evaporated fluid to go through the evaporation condensation process again.
Figure 7 illustrates an alternative fluid flow diagram that further provides that the fluid discharged from the outlet conduit (10) (not shown) of the condenser unit (4) is conveyed and provided to inlet conduit (5) (not shown) of the heat unit (2) which is subsequently conveyed and provided to the evaporator unit (3).
Figure 8 shows a further alternative fluid flow diagram that further provides that non-evaporated fluid discharged from the evaporator unit (3) is conveyed and provided to the inlet conduit (5) (not shown) of the heat unit (2), and fluid discharged from the outlet conduit (10) (not shown) of the condenser unit (4) is conveyed and provided to inlet conduit (5) (not shown) of the heat unit (2) which is subsequently conveyed and provided to the evaporator. In this arrangement, the evaporator unit (3) and the condenser unit (4) both provide fluid to the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2).
It is to be appreciated that the inlet conduits (5, 7, 9) of one or more of the heat unit (2), an evaporator unit (3) and condenser unit (4) may have one or more intakes. It is envisaged that any possible permutation of the number of intakes and valve arrangements of the intakes is included within the scope of the invention.
For example, as illustrated in figures 9a to 9c, there are a number of different permutations for the intakes of the inlet conduit (9) (not shown) of the condenser unit (4). Each of these permutations may be present on all of the described embodiments in combination with each of the different permutations of the intakes of the inlet conduits (5, 7) of the heat unit (2) and evaporator unit (3); which are described in more detail below.
As illustrated in figure 9a, the inlet conduit (9) has a single input. Figure 9b discloses an inlet conduit (9) having two intakes. As illustrated in figure 9c, the two fluid intakes may have a valve, such as a mixer valve, to control the amount of fluid from each of the intakes being received by the condenser unit (4). In the arrangements of figures 9b and 9c, one of the intakes receives fluid having a higher temperature than the fluid received in the second intake.
It is appreciated that there may be additional intakes to exert an additional control on the temperature of the fluid entering the condenser unit (4). It is further appreciated that the outlet conduit (10) of the condenser unit (4) may have one or more outtakes that may be connected to an outlet pipe and/or a connector pipe that convey fluid to an external storage or distribution system and unit or a component of the module respectively. Furthermore, it is to be appreciated that there may be a heat exchanger and/or an energy recovery device in any of the pipes conveying fluid within the module that has been discharged from the condenser unit (4). Each of these permutations may be present on all of the described embodiments in combination with each of the different permutations of the intakes and outtakes of the inlet conduits (5, 7 9) and outlet conduits (6, 8, 10) respectively of the condenser unit (4), heat unit (2) and evaporator unit (3); which are described in more detail below.
For example, as illustrated in figures 10a to 10f, there are a number of different permutations for the intakes of the inlet conduit (7) (not shown) of the evaporator unit (3). Each of these permutations may be present on all of the described embodiments in combination with each of the different permutations of the intakes of the inlet conduits (5, 9) of the heat unit (2) and condenser unit (4).
Figure 10a illustrates a single intake of the inlet conduit (7) of the evaporator unit (3). Figure 10b illustrates an inlet conduit (7) having two intakes; one of the intakes receives fluid from the heat unit (2) and the second intake being supplied receives fluid from a separate source. As illustrated in figure 10c, there are three intakes; one of the intakes receives fluid from the evaporator unit (2) whereas the other intakes receive fluid from separate sources.
As illustrated in figures 10d to 10f, the three fluid intakes may have any one of the alternative valve arrangements, such as a mixer valve to control the amount of fluid from each of the intakes being received by the evaporator unit (3).
In the arrangements of figures 10b to 10f, at least one of the intakes receives fluid having a higher temperature than the fluid received in the second intake. It is appreciated that there may be additional intakes to exert an additional control on the temperature of the fluid entering the evaporator unit (3). It is further appreciated that the outlet conduit (8) of the evaporator unit (3) may have one or more outtakes that may be connected to an outlet pipe and/or a connector pipe that convey fluid to an external storage or distribution system and unit or a component of the module respectively. Furthermore, it is to be appreciated that there may be a heat exchanger and/or an energy recovery device in any of the pipes conveying fluid within the module that has been discharged from the evaporator unit (3). Each of these permutations may be present on all of the described embodiments in combination with each of the different permutations of the intakes and outtakes of the inlet conduits (5, 7 9) and outlet conduits (6, 8, 10) respectively of the condenser unit (4), heat unit (2) and evaporator unit (3).
In particular, it will be appreciated that any of the intakes and outtakes arrangements described above with regard to figures 10a to 10f can be combined with the in all available permutations of the intakes and outtakes arrangements described above with regard to figures 9a to 9c.
For example, as illustrated in figures 11 a to 11 i, there are a number of different permutations for the intakes of the inlet conduit (5) (not shown) of the heat unit (2). Each of these permutations may be present on all of the described embodiments in combination with each of the different permutations of the intakes of the inlet conduits (7, 9) of the evaporator unit (3) and condenser unit (4); which are described in more detail above.
Figure 11 a illustrates a single intake of the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2). Figure 11 b illustrates an inlet conduit (5) having two intakes; one of the intakes receives fluid from the heat unit (2) and the second intake being supplied receives fluid from a separate source. As illustrated in figure 10c, there are three intakes; one of the intakes receives fluid from the evaporator unit (2) whereas the other intakes receive fluid from separate sources.
As shown in figure 11 a to 11 c, the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2) may have one or two inputs respectively from an external source(s). As outlined above with regard to the inlets of the condenser unit (4) and the evaporator unit (3), the plurality of inlets may pass through a mixer valve in order to further control the flow and temperature of water received by the heat unit (2).
Figures 11 d and 11 e illustrate alternative arrangements in which at least one inlet and one of the received non-evaporated fluid discharged from the evaporator unit (3). Figures 11f and 11g illustrate alternative arrangements in which at least one of the intakes receives fluid discharged from the condenser unit (4). Figures 11 h and 11 i illustrate alternative arrangements in which t least one inlets receives fluid discharged from the condenser unit (4) and at least one unit receives non-evaporated fluid that has been discharged from the evaporator unit (3); together with one or more intakes receiving fluid from a separate sources.
As illustrated in figures 11 b to 11 i, the one or more fluid intakes may have any one of the alternative valve arrangements, such as a mixer valve to control the amount of fluid from each of the intakes being received by the heat unit (2).
In the arrangements of figures 11 a to 11 i, at least one of the intakes receives fluid having a higher temperature than the fluid received in the second intake.
It is appreciated that there may be additional intakes to exert an additional control on the temperature of the fluid entering the heat unit (2). It is further appreciated that the outlet conduit (6) of the heat unit (2) may have one or more outtakes that may be connected to an outlet pipe and/or a connector pipe that convey fluid to an external storage or distribution system and unit or a component of the module respectively. Furthermore, it is to be appreciated that there may be a heat exchanger and/or an energy recovery device in any of the pipes conveying fluid within the module that has been discharged from the heat unit (2). Each of these permutations may be present on all of the described embodiments in combination with each of the different permutations of the intakes and outtakes of the inlet conduits (5, 7 9) and outlet conduits (6, 8, 10) respectively of the condenser unit (4), heat unit (2) and evaporator unit
(3).
In particular, it will be appreciated that any of the intakes and outtakes arrangements described above with regard to figures 11 a to 11 i can be combined with all of the permutations described above with regard to figures 10a to 10f and/or all of the available permutations of the intakes and outtakes arrangements described above with regard to figures 9a to 9c.
The source of the above intakes may be any suitable source such as fluid discharged from any one of the other units and/or components within the module and/or a plurality of separate external sources.
It is to be appreciated that any of the connector pipes connecting one unit to the other or exit pipes carrying fluid from of the units to an external storage or distribution system, may have one or more heat exchangers and/or energy derivable devices attached thereto. It is appreciated that any combination of heat exchangers and/or energy recovery devices may be placed in the flows of fluid described above.
The exact arrangements will depend upon the intended use of the distillation apparatus and the simplicity required depending on the circumstances. For example, in a developing country in which skilled labourers are scarce, a more simple apparatus maybe required because such an arrangement will be easier to manufacture, install and maintain. Moreover, such an arrangement is likely to be less expensive than a more complicated apparatus.
Figure 12 illustrates an example of one of the many permutations of fluid flow in a distillation apparatus of the invention. As shown in figure 12, the input conduit (9) of the condensed unit (4) has a single intake. In this embodiment, the input is a cold water source, such as sea water obtained from deep beneath the surface of the sea. However, it is envisaged that any cold fluid source may be used. The fluid flows along a chamber of the condenser unit (4) and is discharged by the outlet conduit (10). The fluid is conveyed to a valve that is adapted to divert the fluid to an outlet pipe having an energy recovery device and/or the inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2).
The inlet conduit (5) of the heat unit (2) has four inlets; one receiving fluid discharged from the condenser unit (4), one receiving non-evaporated fluid discharged from the evaporator unit (3) and two receiving fluid from separate sources; whereon at least one of the intakes receives fluid having a higher temperature than the fluid received by the other intakes.
The fluid leaving the heat unit (2) from the outlet conduit (6) passes through a valve adapted to direct fluid to an outlet pipe having an energy derivable recovery device (19) and/or to the inlet conduit (7) of the evaporator unit (3). The evaporator unit (3) has two further inlets receiving fluid from a separate source. At least one of the intakes receives fluid having a higher temperature than the fluid received by the other intakes.
The non-evaporated fluid discharged from the outlet conduit (8) of the evaporated unit (3) is conveyed to a valve that directs the fluid to an outlet pipe having an energy recovery device (19) and/or to a heat exchanger (20). The heat exchanger (20) directs fluid towards the heat unit (2) and an outlet pipe having an energy recovery device (19). The temperature of the fluid directed towards the heat unit (2) has a higher temperature then the fluid entering the outflow pipe. The heat exchanger (20) also has an intake of fluid from a separate source. The fluid in the additional intake has a higher temperature then the fluid entering the outflow pipe.
The energy recovery devices of this embodiment provide energy to input pumps that pump fluid within the module.
The temperature of the fluid entering the heat unit (2) may be further controlled additional valve arrangements. The heat unit (2) shown in figure 12 is an array of pipes that heats the fluid within the array by energy derived from radiation of sunlight and when positioned in a self-irrigation greenhouse the conduction of humid air within the module. The additional three inputs into the evaporator unit (3) provide further control thereby providing an efficient and productive system. The temperature of the fluid entering each of the units will depend upon the sunlight available and the conditions within such a greenhouse and/or the amount of water required to be distilled. This arrangement allows the growing conditions within the greenhouse to be provided at an optimum whilst still producing distilled water.
Figures 13a and 13b illustrate an alternative distillation apparatus (1 ) of the invention. The common features to the previous embodiments of figures 1 to 12 will be described with reference to the same reference numerals.
As shown in figures 13a and 13b, the apparatus (1 ) has an evaporator unit (3) in the form of three evaporative cooling pads (13) that have been stacked one on top of the other in a vertical arrangement. It is to be appreciated that any number of evaporative cooling pads (13) in any given arrangement may form the evaporator unit (3). The heat unit and condenser unit are equivalent to those described in the above embodiments.
The structure (14) is airtight and has a partial or full vacuum provided by an aspirator or series of aspirators (21 ). In this embodiment the aspirator is a known standard aspirator, commonly used in educational laboratories, that is driven by the flow of fluid therethrough. However, it is envisaged that more complex aspirators could be incorporated into the apparatus (1 ).
The aspirator or series of aspirators (21 ) is positioned adjacent to the condenser such that it pulls air through the condenser, thereby increasing the rate of condensation within the apparatus and general efficiency thereof. Such an arrangement enables the production of distilled water at a fast rate.
As shown in figure 13a, the aspirator or series of aspirators has a plurality of pipes that each draw air and provide a wall of low pressure. Such an arrangement ensures a constant low pressure and is more efficient to draw the air through the condenser.
In an alternative embodiment (not shown), the aspirator is positioned external to the structure.
It is to be appreciated that the fluid flow of the any of the previous described embodiments or permutation thereof are applicable to this embodiment of the invention. Moreover, the fluid flow can be adapted to insure that fluid is used to drive the vacuum. For example, the fluid flow could be derived directly or indirectly from non-evaporated fluid discharged from the evaporator unit (3) and, directly or indirectly, from the fluid discharged from the condenser unit (4). Alternatively, a separate water source may be provided. Figure 14 illustrates a fluid flow diagram of one embodiment of the distillation apparatus (1 ) illustrated in figure 13. As shown in figure 14, the inlet conduit (9) of the condenser unit (4) has two intakes. The intakes are connected by a valve that controls the flow of fluid from one or both of the intakes into the condenser unit (4). The fluid received by one of the intakes has a higher temperature than the fluid received by the other inlet.
The fluid travels along an internal chamber of the condenser unit (4) and is discharged by the outlet conduit (10) to a connection pipe, having an energy recovery device (19), to a valve. The valve directs fluid indirectly from condenser unit (4) to the aspirator (21 ) and a heat exchanger (20).
The heat exchanger (20) receives fluid indirectly from the condenser unit (4) and the evaporator unit (3). The heat exchanger (20) directs the fluid towards the aspirator (21 ) and the heat unit (3).
The heat unit (3) has an additional intake receiving fluid heated by a solar heater closed loop, hot seawater provided from the top surface of the sea or fluid heated by waste heat. Any other sources of fluid are also envisaged.
The heat unit (2) is an array of pipes that provides further heat to the fluid of the heat unit (2), as discussed in more detail above. The fluid is discharge the outlet conduit (6) of the heat unit (2) and conveys the water to the inlet conduit (7) of the evaporator unit (3).
Non-evaporated is discharged from outlet conduit (8) of the the evaporator unit (3) via a connection pipe, having an energy recovery device (19), to a valve. The valve directs the non-evaporated fluid from the evaporator unit (2) directly to the heat unit (2), a heat exchange (20) that also directs fluid to the heat unit (2) and the aspirator (21 ), and directly to the aspirator (21 ). The aspirator (21 ) has an outlet pipe having an energy recovery device attached.
The plurality of valves in this arrangement provides an increased efficiency and a higher degree of control over the temperatures of the individual units. Therefore, the amount of fluid that is distilled can be controlled to meet the demand.
It is appreciate that one or more additional valve arrangements may be in place to provide tighter control of the temperature of the fluid within the module.
The source of the above intakes may be any suitable source such as fluid discharged from any one of the other units and/or components within the module and/or a plurality of separate external sources.
It is to be appreciated that any of the connector pipes connecting one unit to the other or exit pipes carrying fluid from of the units to an external storage or distribution system, may have one or more heat exchangers and/or energy derivable devices attached thereto. It is appreciated that any combination of heat exchangers and/or energy recovery devices may be placed in the flows of fluid described above.
The exact arrangements will depend upon the intended use of the distillation apparatus and the simplicity required depending on the circumstances. For example, in a developing country in which skilled labourers are scarce, a more simple apparatus maybe required because such an arrangement will be easier to manufacture, install and maintain. Moreover, such an arrangement is likely to be less expensive than a more complicated apparatus. The above embodiments of the invention may further comprise a plurality of filters and /or control sensors that measure and control the temperatures of the fluid entering and leaving the individual units and components to control the distilled fluid output and/or the conditions within the apparatus.
Further embodiment of the invention (not shown) includes a plurality of modules in a single structure. Alternatively, the invention encompasses a plurality of modules in distinct structures in a series. It is envisaged that the fluid flow between individual modules and individual structures could be joined at one or more places. For example, the fluid leaving an evaporator unit (3) of any given module could provide fluid to the heat unit (2) of the same module and/or any other module. Similarly, the external sources providing fluid into the modules may be a single source.
The above distillation apparatus (1 ) of the above described embodiments may be used in a desalination process, a desalination self irrigation greenhouse, processing of waste or toxic fluids, removal of containments from a fluid, sewage treatment, water treatment, chemical plant and outflows, petrol chemical outflow, mining, gas and oil extraction, high technology plants, for example semi conductive fabrication plants, safe removal of distillate for reuse or discarding, production of distilled water, production of mineralised water, microbrewery, and production of salt.
By removing excess water or solvent safely, efficiently and cheaply, the resulting concentrated waste can be more efficiently processed and usually at a reduced cost as much of the pumping, transport, etc. costs are reduced by removing most of the water/solvent from the toxic waste i.e. the majority of the weight and volume. Such a process would be useful for sewage treatment, water treatment, chemical plant outflows, petrol chemical outflow, mining, gas and oil extract and high technology plants, e.g. semi conductive fabrication plants. This will enable the distillate to be safely reused or discarded. It is well known to attempt to make fresh water from sea water.
As illustrated in figure 15, a first embodiment of a condenser (22) comprises comprising a plurality of units (3) having a first end (23) and a second end (24); each unit (3) comprising two opposing walls (25) defining a cavity (26) therebetween and at least one interconnecting wall (27) positioned within the cavity (26) between the two walls (25) to form a plurality of elongate channels (28); each channel (28) providing an internal passage defining a fluid flow path through the unit (22) from the first end (23) to the second end (24); an inlet delivery conduit (27) adapted to deliver fluid to at least one end of one or more of the channels (28) at or near the first end (23) of the unit (3); and an outlet conduit (29) adapted to receive fluid flowing from at least one end of one or more of the channels (28) at or near the second end (24) of the unit (3).
As shown in figure 15, the opposing walls (25) are both planar and parallel to one another; and the interconnecting walls (27) are straight. The interconnecting walls (27) are perpendicular to the opposing walls (25) thereby proving channels (28) that have a traverse cross section in the shape of a square. The channels (28) extend fully from the one end (23) of the unit (3) to the second end (24) of the unit (22). The channels are suitable for a fluid to pass along the channel such that they are conveyed all the way through the unit (3). In this embodiment the fluid is intended to flow from the one end (23) to the second end (24) of the unit (3) in the direction of arrow A.
The plurality of units (3) are positioned parallel to one another. The axis running from the one end (23) to the second end (24) of each unit (3) is in a substantially vertical orientation. The space between adjacent units (3) will depend on the intended use of the condenser (22). In this embodiment, there are two spacers (31 ) positioned between each set of adjacent units (3). The spacers (31 ) are fixed to both of the adjacent units (3) and define a planar fluid passageway, thereby providing an additional flow path for the condensed vapour during use. The spacers (31 ) have a first end (33) and second end (34), and the first end (33) is elevated with respect to the second end (34).
The opposing walls (25) and interconnecting walls (23) are an integral polypropylene unit (3) formed by an extrusion process. The size of the channels (28) and thickness of the walls (25, 27) will depend upon the intended use of the condenser (22). In this embodiment, a structure commercially know as Correx forms the unit (3).
As illustrated in figure 15, in use, the delivery input conduit (29) introduces fluid into the channels (28) at one end (23) of each of the units (3). In this embodiment, a single delivery input conduit (29) provides fluid to all of the units (3) and channels (28). The fluid flows from the one end (23) to the second end (24) through the channels (28) in the direction of arrow A, as shown in figure 1. The fluid exits the channels (28) into the outlet conduit (30). In this embodiment, a single outlet conduit (30) receives fluid from the channels (28) of each of the units (3). Vapour enters the condenser (22) in the spaces between the adjacent units (3) in the direction of the arrow B. The temperature of the fluid in the channels (28) is substantially lower than the temperature of the vapour such that the vapour condenses on the external surface of the opposed walls (25). The condensed vapour flows down the surface of the opposed walls (25) in the direction of arrow C until it reaches a spacer (31 ). The flow path provided by the spacer (31 ) guides the condensed fluid into the trough (32). Figures 16A to 16E illustrate alternative embodiments of the transverse cross sections of the channels. The units (3) of the alternative embodiments have opposing walls (25) parallel to one another and the interconnecting walls (27) are straight. The embodiments of figures 2A to 2D show units having planar opposing walls; whereas the unit illustrated in figure 2E has non-planar opposing walls (25). Figure 2D illustrates an embodiment in which the interconnecting walls are in the form of two straight segments joined at a point.
As illustrated in figure 17, the opposing walls (25) are both planar and parallel to one another; and the interconnecting walls (27) are straight. The interconnecting walls (27) are perpendicular to the opposing walls (25) thereby providing channels (28) that have a traverse cross section in the shape of a square. The channels (28) extend fully from one end (23) of the unit (3) to the second end (24) of the unit (3). The channels are suitable for a fluid to pass along the channel such that they are conveyed all the way through the unit (3). In this embodiment the fluid is intended to flow from the one end (23) to the second end (24) of the unit (3) in the direction of arrow A.
The units (3) are positioned at an angle a° of between 1 to 179 degrees to the adjacent unit. In this embodiment the units do not touch because they are spaced apart. Therefore, the angle a° is the angle that would be formed between the axes that run perpendicular to the direction of the channels were to meet, as illustrated by the dotted lines. The space between adjacent units (3) and the angle therebetween will depend on the intended use of the condenser (22). It is envisaged that three or more units will be arranged in such a manner.
The opposing walls (25) and interconnecting walls (23) are an integral polypropylene unit (3) formed by an extrusion process. The size of the channels (28) and thickness of the walls (25, 27) will depend upon the intended use of the condenser (22). In this embodiment, structures commercially know as Correx form the unit (3).
As illustrated in figure 17, in use, a delivery input conduit (not shown) introduces fluid into the channels (28) at one end (23) of each of the units (3). The fluid flows from the one end (23) to the second end (24) through the channels (28) in the direction of arrow A, as shown in figure 15. The fluid exits the channels (28) into an outlet conduit (not shown). Vapour travelling substantially horizontally enters the condenser (22) in the spaces between the adjacent units (23) in the directions of the arrows B. The temperature of the fluid in the channels (28) is substantially lower than the temperature of the vapour such that the vapour condenses on the external surface of the opposed walls (25). The condensed vapour flows down the surface of the opposed walls (25) in the direction of arrow C until it reaches a trough (not shown).
The embodiment shown in figure 18 has two units having planar and parallel opposing walls and straight interconnecting walls (27). The interconnecting walls (27) are perpendicular to the opposing walls (25) thereby proving channels (28) that have a traverse cross section in the shape of a square. The channels (28) extend fully from the one end (23) of the unit (3) to the second end (24) of the unit (3). The channels are suitable for a fluid to pass along the channel such that they are conveyed all the way through the unit (3). In this embodiment the fluid is intended to flow from the one end (23) to the second end (24) of the unit (3) in the direction of arrow A.
Each unit (3) is folded to form two planar segments (35). In this embodiment the unit (3) is folded in half. However, the segments (35) may be of different sizes and more than one fold may be formed in a single unit (3). The folded section (36) between the two segments (35) is a living hinge. However, the folded section (36) could be a simple fold of the unit (3) to form a plurality of segments (35). The angle a° between the segments (35) of each unit is between 1 to 179 degrees. The angle will depend on the intended use of the condenser (22).
The opposing walls (25) and interconnecting walls (23) are an integral polypropylene unit (3) formed by an extrusion process. The size of the channels (28) and thickness of the walls (25, 27) will depend upon the intended use of the condenser (22). In this embodiment, a structure commercially known as Correx forms the unit (3).
As illustrated in figure 18, in use, a delivery input conduit (not shown) provides fluid into the channels (28) at one end (23) of each of the units (3). The fluid flows from the one end (23) to the second end (24) through the channels (28) in the direction of arrow A, as shown in figure 15. The fluid exits the channels (28) into an outlet conduit (not shown). Vapour travelling substantially horizontally enters the condenser (22) in the spaces between the adjacent units (3) in the direction of the arrows B. The temperature of the fluid in the channels (28) is substantially lower than the temperature of the vapour such that the vapour condenses on the external surface of the opposed walls (25). The condensed vapour flows down the surface of the opposed walls (25) in the direction of arrow C until it reaches a trough (not shown).
The described condensers shown in figures 15 to 28 may be used in a distillation apparatus described above with reference to figures 1 to 14. The exact arrangements will depend upon the intended use of the distillation apparatus and the simplicity required depending on the circumstances. For example, in a developing country in which skilled labourers are scarce, a more simple apparatus maybe required because such an arrangement will be easier to manufacture, install and maintain. Moreover, such an arrangement is likely to be less expensive than a more complicated apparatus. When used in this specification and claims, the terms "comprises" and "comprising" and variations thereof mean that the specified features, steps or integers are included. The terms are not to be interpreted to exclude the presence of other features, steps or components.
The features disclosed in the foregoing description, or the following claims, or the accompanying drawings, expressed in their specific forms or in terms of a means for performing the disclosed function, or a method or process for attaining the disclosed result, as appropriate, may, separately, or in any combination of such features, be utilised for realising the invention in diverse forms thereof.

Claims

Claims
1. A distillation apparatus comprising at least one module, each module comprising a condenser unit, a heat unit and an evaporator unit, wherein: the heat unit has an inlet conduit for receiving fluid and an outlet conduit for providing the fluid to an inlet conduit of the evaporator unit; the evaporator has an inlet conduit for receiving fluid from the heat unit and an outlet conduit for removal of non-evaporated fluid; the condenser unit has an inlet conduit for receiving fluid from a source and an outlet conduit for removal of fluid; and the inlet conduit of at least one of the condenser unit, evaporator unit or heat unit comprises two or more fluid intakes whereby fluid in one of the intakes has a higher temperature than the fluid in the other intake.
2. A distillation apparatus according to claim 1 , wherein the two or more fluid intakes of at least one of the condensed unit, evaporator unit or heat unit are adapted to receive fluid from different sources.
3. A distillation apparatus of claim 1 or 2, wherein at least one of the inlet conduits of the comprising one or more intakes further comprises one or more valves.
4. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the evaporator unit provides at least a portion of the non-evaporated fluid to the heat unit.
5. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the evaporator outlet provides at least a portion of the non-evaporated fluid to the heat unit of the module and/or one or more heat units of one or more further modules.
6. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the evaporator unit provides at least a portion of the non-evaporated fluid to the condenser unit.
7. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the condenser unit provides at least a portion of fluid to the heat unit.
8. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising one or more valves to control the flow of fluid into and out of the units, one or more heat exchangers, and/or one or more energy recover devices.
9. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein one or more of the condenser unit, heat unit or evaporator unit has an exit pipe for conveying fluid to an external storage system or drainage system.
10. A distillation apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the exit pipe has an energy recovery device.
11. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the heat unit is in the form of a pipe.
12. A distillation apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 10, wherein the heat unit is the form of an array of pipes.
13. A distillation apparatus according to any one of claims 11 and 12, wherein heated fluid is supplied to the heat unit is heated by radiation, waste heat and/or a closed loop solar water heater.
14. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the evaporator unit comprises one or more evaporative cooling pads.
15. A distillation apparatus according to claim 14, wherein two or more evaporative cooling pads are stacked one on top of the other in a vertical arrangement.
16. A distillation apparatus according to any one of claims 14 to 15, wherein the heat unit is adapted to provide fluid to each of the evaporative cooling pads.
17. A distillation apparatus according to any one of claims 14 to 16, wherein the heat unit is adapted to provide fluid to each of the evaporative cooling pads in the form of a spray.
18. A distillation apparatus of any on of the preceding claims, wherein the condenser comprises: at least one unit having a first end and a second end; each unit comprising two opposing walls defining a cavity therebetween and at least one interconnecting wall positioned within the cavity between the two walls to form a plurality of elongate channels; each channel providing an internal passage defining a fluid flow path through the unit from the first end to the second end; an inlet delivery conduit adapted to deliver fluid to at least one end of one or more of the channels at or near the first end of the unit; and an outlet conduit adapted to receive fluid flowing from at least one end of one or more of the channels at or near the second end of the unit.
19. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising one or more cultivation areas.
20. A distillation apparatus according to claim 19, wherein at least one of the one or more cultivation areas is positioned between the evaporator unit and the condenser unit.
21. A distillation apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising one or more structures; each structure encompassing one or more modules.
22. A distillation apparatus according to claim 21 , wherein the structure has a roof and the apparatus further comprises a gutter that runs partially or fully around the perimeter of the roof.
23. A distillation apparatus according to any one of claims 19 to 22, wherein the distillation apparatus is a self-irrigation greenhouse.
24. A distillation apparatus according to claim 23, wherein the structure is substantially fluid tight or fully fluid tight.
25. A distillation apparatus according to claim 24, wherein the structure has a partial or full vacuum.
26. A distillation apparatus according to claim 25, wherein the vacuum is formed by an aspirator or series of aspirators, preferably driven by the flow of fluid therethrough.
27 A distillation device of claim 26, wherein the fluid is provided by the fluid discharged from the condenser and/or evaporator and/or one or more of the heat exchanges.
28. A distillation device of claims 21 to 27, wherein the heater unit is external to the structure.
29. A self-irrigation greenhouse according to any one claims 1 to 21.
30. A condenser unit according to any one of claims 1 to 29.
31. A evaporator unit according to any one of claims 1 to 29.
32. A heat unit according to any one of claims 1 to 29.
33. A module comprising a condenser unit, evaporator unit and heat unit according to any one of claims 1 to 29.
34. A kit comprising a distillation apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 29.
35. A kit comprising one or more condenser units and/or one or more evaporator units and/or one or more heat units and/or one or more modules comprising a condenser unit, evaporator unit and heat unit according to any one of claims 1 to 29.
36. A kit further comprising a structure according to any one of claims 21 to 29.
37. Use of a distillation apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 29 in a process selected from the group consisting of a desalination process, a desalination self irrigation greenhouse, processing of waste or toxic fluids, removal of containments from a fluid, sewage treatment, water treatment, chemical plant and outflows, petrol chemical outflow, mining, gas and oil extraction, high technology plants, semi conductive fabrication plants, safe removal of distillate for reuse or discarding, production of distilled water, production of mineralised water, microbrewery, and production of salt.
38 Use of a kit according to any one of claims 34 to 36 in a process selected from the group consisting of a desalination process, a desalination self irrigation greenhouse, processing of waste or toxic fluids, removal of containments from a fluid, sewage treatment, water treatment, chemical plant and outflows, petrol chemical outflow, mining, gas and oil extraction, high technology plants, semi conductive fabrication plants, safe removal of distillate for reuse or discarding, production of distilled water, production of mineralised water, microbrewery, and production of salt.
39. A distillation apparatus, kit, module, condenser unit, heat unit, evaporator unit and/or self-irrigation greenhouse substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
40. A distillation apparatus, kit, module, condenser unit, heat unit, evaporator unit and/or self-irrigation greenhouse substantially as hereinbefore described and/or with reference to the accompanying drawings.
PCT/GB2009/051761 2008-12-23 2009-12-22 A distillation apparatus WO2010073039A2 (en)

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GB0823460A GB2466500A (en) 2008-12-23 2008-12-23 Distillation apparatus

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