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Portable Solar Power Plant Purifies Water, Makes Hydrogen

A portable power plant that provides drinking water for disaster recovery

3 min read
Portable Solar Power Plant Purifies Water, Makes Hydrogen

20 October 2010—In the immediate aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, most survivors lacked three essential things: potable water, power for lights and cooking, and communications networks to tell the outside world what their needs were.

A Hopewell, N.J., company called The Essential Element aims to provide all three with a mobile device that it says purifies more than 87 000 liters of water a day. The device will simultaneously create hydrogen for running an onboard fuel cell or for burning in a separate camp-style cooking stove. The unit also has wall sockets that can be used to charge cellphones and run other electronics.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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