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Using The Sun To Clean Water: Lakewood Solar Co. Wins $1.6M

Jean Lotus's picture
Field Editor,

Award-winning journalist and Colorado native with an interest in tech, innovation, natural resources, oil and gas and renewables.

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  • Nov 5, 2018

LAKEWOOD, CO – A Lakewood company that makes solar power collectors has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for technology that uses solar power to desalinate water. 

SkyFuel, which employs around 80 people in Lakewood, Colorado was granted $1.6 million by the U.S. Department of Energy for their patented membrane-based parabolic solar trough collectors. The company also has sister companies in China, Finland and Canada.

In 2013, Skyfuel worked with a California water agency and a private company WaterFX in 2013 to develop a pilot desalination project outside of Fresno, California. Their 377-foot parabolic solar mirror focuses the sun's rays to heat oil in a tube, which creates steam from briney irrigation runoff water. The steam condenses to pure water, leaving minerals and impurities behind, the Sacramento Bee reported. The system produces approximately 10 gallons per minute for 17 hours a day, yielding roughly 10,000 gallons of distilled water daily.

U.S. Department of Energy chart to show how costs of solar desalination can be brought down.


Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 5, 2018

The combination of solar power and desalination has long been critical in parts of the world like Saudi Arabia that don't have natural fresh-water rivers but are filled with intense sun. It's great to see funding go into improving this process as it will go along way towards ensuring clean and available water in places without it today and doing so in a clean & renewable way. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 5, 2018

The potential of thermal desalination technologies is endless - for diverting money from effectual desal technologies to the pockets of scam artists.

To generate the quantity of water from a utility-scale desal plant like Carlsbad in a Fresno thermal-solar facility, based on figures from Skyfuel’s pilot plant, would require 357 miles of parabolic solar mirrors, 357 miles of oil-filled tubes, and at least 357 naîve renewables advocates whose undying faith in the practicality of solar energy is only paralleled by their own ignorance of physics.

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