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Solar distillation differs from other forms of desalination that are more energy-intensive, such as methods such as [[reverse osmosis]], or simply boiling water due to its use of free energy.<ref> Abu-Arabi, M. (2007). Status and prospects for solar desalination in the MENA region. Solar Desalination for the 21 st Century, 163-178.</ref><ref>
Paton, C., & Davies, P. (2006). The seawater greenhouse cooling, fresh water and fresh produce from seawater. In The 2nd International Conference on Water Resources in Arid Environments, Riyadh.</ref> A very common and, by far, the largest example of solar distillation is the natural water cycle that the Earth experiences.
<ref name = "Hirsch">
Hirschmann, J. R. (1975). Solar distillation in Chile. Desalination, 17(1), 31-67.
</ref>This desalination plant,"can be considered to be the first industrial installation for exploitation of solar energy<ref name="Hirsch"/>." The Las Salinas plant was envisioned to take advantage of the nearby saltpeter mining effluent to supply the miners and their families freshwater <ref name="Emmy"/>.The facility was quite large for its time and now:<blockquote>"The plant was constructed of wood and timber framework covered with one sheet of glass. It consisted of 64 bays having a total surface area of 4450
m2 and a total land surface area of 7896 m2. It produced 22.70 m3 of fresh water per day. The plant was in operation for about 40 years until the mines were exhausted<ref name="Emmy"/>."
Interest in solar distillation wavered for some time, until historical events prompted further research and development. World War II was a great catalyst for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop appropriate solar stills for use in more remote areas of the world during emergencies. These small solar stills were made to float on and collect saltwater to desalt as they floated alongside life-boats and rafts<ref name="Emmy"/>. More
siginificant studies into solar distillation were carried out by the Office of Saline Water, a sector the US government, in 1952. Many experiments were performed on different conceptualizations of the solar still, including multiple-effect basins and the application of condensers<ref name="Emmy"/>. This trend ended near the early 70's with the advent of more lucrative desalination techniques like the aforementioned reverse osmosis or multi-stage flash, a technique that involves a series of stages where evaporation relies on lowering the pressure of each stage to lower the boiling or "flashing" point of the water <ref> El-Dessouky, H. T., Ettouney, H. M., & Al-Roumi, Y. (1999). Multi-stage flash desalination: present and future outlook. Chemical Engineering Journal, 73(2), 173-190. </ref><ref name= "Fath">
Fath, H. E. (1998). Solar distillation: a promising alternative for water provision with free energy, simple technology and a clean environment. Desalination, 116(1), 45-56.
</ref> Today, renewed enthusiasm for solar distillation comes from individuals, communities, and organizations seeking an [[appropriate technology]] that is cheap, simple, and conceivable in rural settings <ref name = "Eibling"> Eibling, J. A., Talbert, S. G., & Löf, G. O. G. (1971). Solar stills for community use—digest of technology. Solar energy, 13(2), 263-276. </ref>.
The immediate abstraction to make is to the Earth's natural system, but as it was aforementioned, this is unjustified but only if one believes that the water cycle on Earth is a non-complex concept. In "Understanding Solar Stills" it is said,<blockquote>
"It takes a lot of energy for water to vaporize. While a certain amount of energy is needed to raise the temperature of a kilogram of water from 0 to 100 Celcius (C), it takes five and one-half times that much to chnage it from water at
100 C to water vapor at 100 C. Practically all this energy, however, is given back when the water vapor condenses... This is the way we get fresh water in the clouds from the oceans, by solar distillation. All the fresh water on earth has been solar distilled.<ref name = "Gordes"/>"
In "Social aspects of a solar-powered desalination unit for remote Australian communities" Warner & Schafer argue that many journals, researchers and others like them rely too much on the technical aspects of solar distillation to prove its worth, "in
*be within their capacity to operate and maintain.<ref>
Werner, M., & Schäfer, A. I. (2007). Social aspects of a solar-powered desalination unit for remote Australian communities. Desalination, 203(1), 375-393.
Single products are not available at the moment![http://www.watercone.com]</blockquote>
'''Cost''': The planned price is below € 20,[http://www.watercone.com/product.html]. Solar distillation needs to become much cheaper than this before it can achieve widespread use by the poor. The website states that this works out cheaper than [[bottled water]] at
50c per liter once it is used for a number of months; however the target market cannot afford to buy bottled water, so this is not a useful comparison. If they do buy water, it is more likely to be from [[water refill stations]] which charge around 3 c per liter in major cities in Asia. In isolated areas, the costs increase a lot, but they would need to increase far beyond 3c per liter to justify the investment by a poor person or family - especially when it would be difficult to guard against theft. Thus it looks like they’re only useful where safe water is exceptionally expensive, or simply unavailable. Even then, other options for purifying the water would need to be weighed up. If these things were mass-produced for more like 1 euro or less each, they might be an option for widespread use - and this would be a more reasonable price for mass-produced pieces of molded plastic (even if they are very cleverly designed pieces of molded plastic).
===Watercone external links===
*[http://www.blog.thesietch.org/2007/08/13/watercone-ingenious-way-to-turn-salt-water-to-fresh-water/ Watercone - An Ingenious Way To Turn Salt Water Into Fresh Water] - ''The Sietch Blog'', August 2007
* [http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/004648.html Watercone] - ''WorldChanging.com'', July 2006,
== Interwiki links ==