The Californian company PAX Pure came up with a new desalination solution that combines fundamental thermodynamics with insights from biomimicry. PAX Pure was founded in 2012 and formed out of the pioneering biomimicry company PAX Scientific that is focusing on natural streamlined geometries for fluid-handling technologies such as fans, turbines, or impeller pumps. PAX Scientific has developed products like exhaust fans and water mixing technologies that supposedly mimic seaweeds that, though fragile, survive storm surges by changing shape to a spiral to let the water go by. The spiral shape the seaweed assumes is a Fibonacci spiral, a centripetal spiral that draws fluid from the outer edges of the spiral toward the center. The result is significantly reduced drag and resistance.
The PAX Pure technology mimics high altitude evaporation, which requires less energy due to the lower atmospheric pressure (the lower the pressure the less energy is required to evaporate water). This insight is already used in vacuum distillation in the oil industry. By applying a vacuum to the water phase the atmospheric pressure is reduced or even reversed depending on how strong the applied vacuum is. Thus, less or sometimes even no thermal energy is required to evaporate the water. The new approach of PAX Pure is that the technology is capable of retaining a vacuum while condensing the water in only one step. Usually those steps are separated from each other and done in separate chambers. A schematic representation of the process is illustrated in figure 1:
This new design allows evaporation at low temperature (around 60° C) without requiring any moving parts or membranes. The low operating temperature allows the utilization of low cost chamber construction materials such as plastics, which makes the process easily scalable. Furthermore, industrial waste heat could be used to power the evaporation process. According to PAX Pure the proposed technology is able to handle water with high levels of total dissolved solids.
Since the technology is currently under development for specific applications, not much detailed information on the functional principles of the technology are available but can be requested from PAX Pure over their official website.
Baker K., PAX Pure Investor Presentation. 11.19.2014: Accessed from: https://prezi.com/9cxgrkf7nmin/pax-pure-investor-presentation/.
Pax Pure – Official website, accessed 12.9.2014: http://paxpure.com.
Pax Scientific – Official website, accessed 12.9.2014: http://paxscientific.com.