The Fource project, created by Lodewijk Stuyt from research institute Alterra and PhD candidate Melle Nikkels from Wageningen University, has won the first prize at the Water Republic innovation competition in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Fource is a standalone desalination technology used to make shallow, brackish water suitable for agricultural purposes.

Winning the award allows both inventors to continue developing Fource beyond the current prototype stage.

dws-fource-award-nikkels-pitch-350px   May the 'fource' be with you. Melle Nikkels successfully pitched his technology at the innovation competition.

No more desalination than necessary
"Fource is a technology that we use to reduce the salinity of brackish water", says Lodewijk Stuyt (left on top photo). "We can’t turn it into freshwater, but we can reduce the salinity so that it is suitable for land-based irrigated agriculture."

Stuyt continues: "People assume that water for agriculture must be entirely fresh, but this isn’t the case. A bit of salt is okay in some areas, so an instrument like Fource, which 'trims' the salinity, can make the difference between being able to produce food and not being able to produce food."

Mild desalinisation is often enough to enable farming in areas that would otherwise be unsuitable or are in jeopardy of increased salinisation.

The overall aim is to make food production less vulnerable to salinisation, a problem that is becoming increasingly serious throughout the world

dws-fource-award-capdi-scheme-350pxSaline water flows through a space between oppositely charged porous electrodes. The ions are adsorbed in the pores of the electrodes – from which they will later be flushed.

Cost saving on water intake
The underlying mild desalinisation technology is based on capacitive deionization (CapDI), developed by the Dutch company Voltea to desalinate brackish water at low economic and environmental costs.

Typically, it recovers between 80 and 90 percent of the water it treats, compared to 50-70 percent for reverse osmosis. This saves costs on the overall water intake, and saves the environment because it reduces the brine water discharge.

Voltea’s CapDI system provides variable salt removal and is scalable across water volumes ranging from a few millilitres per minute to thousands of cubic meters per hour.

This flexibility means that CapDI can be used in a wide array of applications.

Voltea’s technology saves electricity by reusing the energy stored in the electrodes during desalination, a process similar to recharging a battery. Unlike competing desalination technologies, CapDI does not require any chemicals such as biocides or anti-scalants.

The first prototype of the device, Fource #1, was assembled by Voltea. During the next phase the CapDI technology will be validated in the field by a farmer in a salinity prone coastal region.

This news item was originally published on the website of Wageningen University.

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