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USP installs solar desalination system on Yanuca Island

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Yanuca Island villagers with the newly installed solar desalination system.

A team from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Engineering and Physics (SEP) recently installed a solar desalination system on Yanuca Island, in the province of Serua in Fiji.

Yanuca is a small island located in the South West of Deuba, approximately 20 km away from the main island of Viti Levu where there is only one village with thirty nine families (39) and a total population of about two hundred (200) people. The island also has a primary school with about 60 students.

Associate Professor at SEP Dr Atul Raturi teamed up with his Master of Physics student, Vinal Prakash, to install the system funded by French Pacific Fonds. This installation is part of a larger initiative that investigates the possibility of providing most of the community energy needs in remote islands using renewable energy

A survey on the needs and priorities of the people at Yanuca Island, revealed that access to clean water was of utmost need. The team then explored ways in which renewable energy could be used by the people to fulfil their energy needs in order to sustain their lives. Since there are no boreholes or any other water source besides rainwater, the only option was to desalinate sea water using renewable energy.

The system, which cost around FJD 40,000 uses F Cubed carocells, which are large panels used to produce safe, high quality potable water from any source including seawater, and groundwater.

Sea water is pumped into the pipes that are connected to the carocells. These carocells have transparent covers on top, on which the water is evaporated to via solar energy and with the process of condensation, the distilled water is collected in tanks located next to the carocells.

On a sunny day, each carocell can produce close to fifteen (15) litres of desalinated water. The system at Yanuca Island has 16 carocells, so around 240 litres of distilled water is collected each day.

The system is also usefulduring rainy weather. It has gutters constructed on the sides, which collect rain water and transfers it to the tanks.

“On one side you can collect clean rain water and if the sun is up, then you get desalinated   drinking water. So the system is producing water all the time,” Dr Raturi explained.

Dr Raturi said that research conducted by SEP supports the objectives of the USP’s Strategic Plan (2013-2018).

He added that research should be conducted in a way that benefits both researchers and the community.

“Whenever we do such projects, we make sure that we target two things, one is that something tangible is left behind with the communities and the other is that students get practical skills in terms of conducting hands-on research,” Dr Raturi said. He also thanked the French Embassy for supporting this project.

Villager Jiuta Lewanituva expressed his sincere gratitude to the USP team and said that, “you came with an idea, coupled with a passion to share and we thank you for choosing Yanuca to do your project.”

Vinal is currently doing his data collection, measurement and analysis. The villagers are also being trained in looking after and troubleshooting of the system.

The team is hoping to officially launch the system next month.


This news item was published on 7 Apr 2017 09:14:29 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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