(19)
(11)EP 3 145 872 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
08.04.2020 Bulletin 2020/15

(21)Application number: 15796723.3

(22)Date of filing:  19.05.2015
(51)Int. Cl.: 
C02F 1/14  (2006.01)
B01D 5/00  (2006.01)
B01D 3/10  (2006.01)
B01D 1/26  (2006.01)
B01D 3/14  (2006.01)
C02F 1/04  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2015/031480
(87)International publication number:
WO 2015/179342 (26.11.2015 Gazette  2015/47)

(54)

MULTI-EFFECT SOLAR DISTILLATION SYSTEM AND ASSOCIATED METHODS

MULTIEFFEKT-SOLARDESTILLATIONSSYSTEM UND ZUGEHÖRIGE VERFAHREN

SYSTÈME DE DISTILLATION SOLAIRE MULTI-EFFET ET PROCÉDÉS ASSOCIÉS


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 19.05.2014 US 201462000209 P
18.05.2015 US 201514714709

(43)Date of publication of application:
29.03.2017 Bulletin 2017/13

(73)Proprietor: D And D Manufacturing
Titusville, Florida 32796 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • POLK, Dale, jr.
    Rockledge, FL 32955 (US)
  • POLK, Timothy
    Rockledge, FL 32955 (US)

(74)Representative: AWA Sweden AB 
P.O. Box 45086
104 30 Stockholm
104 30 Stockholm (SE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A2-2006/077593
DE-A1-102009 018 041
GB-A- 1 467 472
US-A- 4 343 683
US-A1- 2011 048 921
WO-A2-2009/065407
DE-U1- 8 424 789
US-A- 4 329 204
US-A- 4 680 090
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    Field of the Invention



    [0001] The present invention relates to the field of water treatment, and, more particularly, to the distillation of water using solar power.

    Background of the Invention



    [0002] Fresh water is a critical need in many parts of the world. Other contaminated water or liquid, such as oil field frac water and industrial waste water, also needs to be processed before being disposed. A number of different methods have been developed for processing seawater or other contaminated water that is not portable to provide fresh water.

    [0003] One approach is to use settling and filtration systems to remove relatively large impurities from the seawater or contaminated water. Filtration is also capable of removing smaller contaminants down to the size of bacteria, and perhaps even smaller particulates in certain cases. However, filtration systems capable of removing contaminants down to ionic size are quite costly, both in terms of manufacture and in maintenance as well.

    [0004] An alternative method of water purification is distillation. Distillation works well in the removal of virtually all impurities from water. Distillation is used in many areas for the desalination of seawater. However, most distillation processes require considerable heat to produce sufficient evaporation since the water is heated to boiling to accelerate the evaporation process. This is particularly true of large-scale distilling operations.

    [0005] Passive sources of energy (e.g., solar energy) have been developed to produce the required heat for evaporation. One approach for a solar-powered distillation system to produce fresh water from seawater is disclosed in U.S. Patent No. 8,613,840. The solar-powered distillation system includes a heat-absorbent evaporation panel having mutually opposed evaporation surfaces. The panel is contained within a housing. Each side of the housing includes a lens panel. The lenses of each panel focus solar energy onto the respective surfaces of the evaporation panel. A mirror is positioned to each side of the housing to reflect solar energy onto the respective lens panels. Contaminated water enters the top of the housing to run down the surfaces of the evaporation panel. A fresh water collection pipe extends from the top of the housing to a collection tank. A scraper mechanism removes salt and/or other residue from the surfaces of the evaporation panel to allow the residue to be removed periodically from the bottom of the housing. Another example of solar distillation is provided in DE8424789U1.

    [0006] Another approach for a solar-powered distillation system is provided by WaterFX. Solar troughs reflect sunlight to a pipe filled with a heat transfer fluid (HTF), such as mineral oil. The heated mineral oil powers a heat pump. The heat is fed to a multi-effect or multi-stage distillation system that evaporates freshwater from the seawater or contaminated water. The multi-effect approach to evaporating freshwater is efficient since each stage essentially reuses the energy from a previous stage. The steam that is produced condenses into pure liquid water, and the remaining salt solidifies and can be removed.

    [0007] Even in view of the above solar distillation approaches there is still a need to improve upon such a system for processing seawater or other contaminated water that is not portable to provide fresh water.

    Summary of the Invention



    [0008] A solar distillation system as defined in claim 1 includes a plurality of solar panels configured to reflect sunlight, and a plurality of receivers adjacent the plurality of solar panels and configured to receive process water to be processed to purified process water. The plurality of receivers comprise at least a first receiver and a last receiver, with the process water flowing from the first receiver to the last receiver and being heated by the reflected sunlight.

    [0009] Vapor tubes are coupled to the receivers, with each respective vapor tube being coupled between adjacent receivers. Water vapor is generated as the process water is heated within each receiver, with the water vapor flowing via the respective vapor tubes between the adjacent receivers towards the last receiver.

    [0010] A return vapor tube is coupled to the last receiver, and a distillation tube may be coupled to the return vapor tube to receive the water vapor. The distillation tube extends through the plurality of receivers from the last receiver to the first receiver. As the water vapor travels through the distillation tube the water vapor changes to a liquid, with the liquid being the purified process water.

    [0011] The plurality of receivers are connected in series so that each receiver uses heat energy from a previous receiver to heat the process water, except for the first receiver. In other words, the process water is heated in stages, with each receiver corresponding to a stage. A multi-stage or multi-effect approach to heating the process water is efficient since each stage essentially reuses the energy from a previous stage. As the process water is heated within each receiver, the water vapor is generated.

    [0012] Each receiver may be filled by the process water except for an air gap so as to allow the water vapor to develop. The distillation tube may extend through each receiver below the air gap. The distillation tube may be in direct contact with the process water within each receiver, and as the water vapor changes to the liquid within the distillation tube heat is given off. The heat given off during this phase change is provided to each stage, thus further increasing the efficiency of the solar distillation system. An output of the distillation tube provides the purified process water.

    [0013] Each vapor tube may extend between the air gaps in adjacent receivers. Each receiver has a given volume, and the air gap may be about 10 to 20% of the given volume.

    [0014] The plurality of solar panels may be configured as parabolic troughs, with the plurality of receivers being positioned within a focal point of the plurality of solar panels. Each receiver may have an I-shape or a double Y-shape.

    [0015] The solar distillation system may further comprise a plurality of auxiliary heat sources adjacent the plurality of receivers. The solar distillation system may further comprise a vacuum coupled to the distillation tube to direct flow of the water vapor through the plurality of receivers and the distillation tube. The solar distillation system may further comprise a pump coupled to the first receiver to control a flow rate of the process water through the plurality of receivers.

    [0016] The process water may comprise at least one of sea water, frac water and waste water. The last receiver may output the process water that does not turn to water vapor.

    [0017] A method according to claim 8 for processing process water to purified process water using a solar distillation system as described above comprises is provided. The method comprises reflecting sunlight from the plurality of solar panels to the plurality of receivers, and providing the process water to the plurality of receivers. The process water flows from the first receiver to the last receiver and is heated by the reflected sunlight. Water vapor is generated within each receiver as the process water is heated, with the water vapor flowing via the respective vapor tubes between the adjacent receivers towards the last receiver. The method further comprises providing the water vapor from the return vapor tube at the last receiver to the distillation tube, and as the water vapor travels through the distillation tube the water vapor changes to a liquid, with the liquid being the purified process water.

    Brief Description of the Drawings



    [0018] 

    FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a multi-effect solar distillation system in accordance with the present invention.

    FIG. 2 is a detailed view of the first and second receivers illustrated in FIG. 1.

    FIG. 3 is a detailed view of the last receiver illustrated in FIG. 1.

    FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the receivers and solar panels illustrated in FIG. 1.

    FIG. 5 is a side view of one embodiment of the receiver illustrated in FIG. 1 having an I-shape.

    FIG. 6 is a side view of another embodiment of the receiver illustrated in FIG. 1 having a Y-shape.

    FIG. 7 is an exposed perspective view of another embodiment of the last receiver illustrated in FIG. 1 with an auger included therein.

    FIG. 8 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of section 110" highlighted in FIG. 7.

    FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating a method for processing process water to purified process water using a solar distillation system as illustrated in FIG. 1.

    FIG. 10 is a block diagram of another embodiment of a multi-effect solar distillation system in accordance with the present invention.


    Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments



    [0019] The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout, and prime and double notations are used to indicate similar elements in alternative embodiments.

    [0020] Referring initially to FIG. 1, a multi-effect solar distillation system 20 includes a plurality of receivers 30(1)-30(n) and a plurality of solar panels 40(1)-40(n) adjacent the plurality of receivers. Each receiver is positioned within a focal point of a respective solar panel.

    [0021] The water to be processed will be generally referred to as process water 50. The process water 50 may be sea water, oil field frac water or industrial waste water, for example. The process water 50 is heated as it flows through each of the receivers 30(1)-30(n). As the process water 50 is heated, water vapor is generated, which will eventually provide purified process water 60,

    [0022] The process water 50 is heated in stages, with each receiver corresponding to a stage. A multi-stage or multi-effect approach to heating the process water 50 is efficient since each stage essentially reuses the energy from a previous stage. As the process water 50 is heated within each receiver, water vapor is generated.

    [0023] In the illustrated embodiment, a small percentage of the process water 50 is turned to vapor as it travels through the receivers 30(1)-30(n). This percentage may be within a range of about 10-20%, for example. The last receiver 30(n) directs the remaining process water 54 to the sea if it is sea water, or to a holding tank for further processing if it is oil field frac water or industrial waste water.

    [0024] Water vapor flows between adjacent receivers 30(1), 30(2) via a vapor tube 32 connected therebetween. At the last receiver 30(n), a return vapor tube 34 is connected to a distillation tube 36. The return vapor tube 34 directs the vapor to an input of the distillation tube 36. The distillation tube 36 extends through each of the receivers 30(1)-30(n) but is separate from the process water 52 circulating within each receiver.

    [0025] As the water vapor travels through the distillation tube 36, it changes phases back to a liquid. The heat given off during this phase change is provided to each respective stage, thus further increasing the efficiency of the illustrated multi-effect solar distillation system 20. An output of the distillation tube 36 provides the purified process water 60.

    [0026] Since the process water 50 flows through the receivers 30(1)-30(n) instead of a heat transfer fluid (HTF), the illustrated multi-effect solar distillation system 20 is also referred to as an "in-situ" multi-effect solar distillation system.

    [0027] The process water 50 enters an input 33 of the first receiver 30(1) and fills the first receiver 30(1) except for an air gap 35 at the top so as to allow water vapor to develop, as illustrated in FIG. 2. The air gaps 35 may be about 10-20% of the volume of the receivers. The distillation tube 36 is positioned so that it is below the gap gap 35. As noted above, positioning the distillation tube 36 in contact with the process water 50 advantageously allows heat to be given off as the water vapor changes phases back to a liquid.

    [0028] An output 37 of the first receiver 30(1) is connected to an input 33 of the second receiver 30(2). The process water 52 fills the second receiver 30(2) except for another air gap 35 at the top so as to allow water vapor to develop. This process continues for each of the receivers.

    [0029] A vapor tube 32 couples together the air gaps 35 in any two adjacent receivers. In the illustrated example, a vapor tube 32 provides a passageway for the water vapor to travel from the air gap 35 in the first receiver 30(1) to the air gap 35 in the second receiver 30(2). This process continues for each of the receivers. At the last receiver 30(n), a return vapor tube 34 couples the air gap 35 therein to the distillation tube 36, as illustrated in FIG. 3.

    [0030] As will now be discussed in greater detail, the multi-effect solar distillation system 20 includes multiple components for heating the process water 50 to the desired temperature. These components include a structure to preheat the process water, a parabolic trough for the capture of solar thermal energy, a circulation pump, a receiver with a large solar impingement area and a low interior volume, and a distillation tube.

    [0031] To further improve heating of the process water 50, the multi-effect solar distillation system 20 may include a vacuum pump or system 72 coupled to the distillation tube to help lower the boiling temperature of the process water 50 as well as provide direction to the flow of the water vapor. In addition, a plurality of auxiliary heat sources 42(1)-42(n) may be positioned adjacent the plurality of receivers 30(1)-30(n) to allow for low or no sun operation. The auxiliary heat sources 42(1)-42(n) may be gas burners, for example.

    [0032] Preheat can be accomplished by storing the process water 50 in a lined pond or tank with a large surface exposure area that is covered by a greenhouse style building. The building has sides and a roof made from a clear material that will let the ambient solar energy in and warm the stored process water 50. The roof of the building may be shaped so as to channel any water vapor that will condense into a collector as this will be purified process water. The building may be constructed so that minimal heat and water vapor will be lost to the outside environment so as to increase efficiency.

    [0033] The solar panels 40(1)-40(n) may be configured as large aperture parabolic troughs, as illustrated in FIG. 4. Each parabolic trough includes a reflective material for directing the sunlight to a focal point. The reflective material may be glass mirrors or thin reflective film, for example. The parabolic troughs may be placed in series to allow for the heating of the process water 50 to a proper temperature.

    [0034] A pump 70 moves the process water through the receivers 30(1)-30(n), as illustrated in FIG. 1. The pump 70 includes controls to vary the flow rate of the process water 50. Control of the flow rate controls a rate of evaporation of the process water 50. The flow rate of the process water 50 through the receivers 30(1)-30(n) may be within a range of about 18.5-55.5 litres (5-15 gallons) per minutes, for example. As readily appreciated by those skilled in the art, the flow rate is selected so that a desired percentage of the process water vaporizes as it travels through the receivers 30(1)-30(n). As the flow rate is increased, then the number of receiver stages would also need to be increased to obtain the desired temperate to vaporize the process water 50. The flow rate is inversely proportional to the energy absorbed by the receivers 30(1)-30(n).

    [0035] The receivers 30(1)-30(n) are configured to provide a large solar impingement area, yet have a low interior volume. The receivers 30(1)-30(n) are located within the parabolic trough 40(1)-40(n) so that the solar energy is reflected thereon from both upper and lower halves of the parabolic trough. The receivers 30(1)-30(n) are mounted so that they may be adjusted to aid in an optimum position to receive the solar energy.

    [0036] A fill port or input 33 and an exit port of output 37 at a bottom of each receiver allows for the process water 50 to enter and exit. The receiver is not limited to any particular design. One example design of a receiver 30(1) is an I-shape, as illustrated in FIG. 5. The I-shaped receiver 30(1) is sized according to the corresponding parabolic trough 40(1). Example dimensions are 6 inch top and bottom sections centered perpendicular to a 12 inch vertical section. This structure is hollow on the inside to allow for the process water to be directed down the length of the receiver.

    [0037] Several inches down from the top of the vertical sides would flare away from each other to increase the overall width to allow for the placement of the distillation or condensate tube 36. The I-shaped receiver 30(1) is sealed to collect the water vapor being created by the heating of the process water. The water level is controlled so that there will be a gap or void 35 at the top of the I-shaped receiver 30(1) to allow for the collection of the water vapor. An opening at the top of the receiver 30(1) directs the clean water vapor to a vapor tube 32 coupled to an adjacent receiver. The 6 inch wide top and bottom section of the receiver 30(1) provides an additional area to capture solar energy. All dimensions are approximate and may be changed to ensure optimum solar impingement along the receiver 30(1).

    [0038] Another example design of a receiver is a double Y-shaped receiver 30(1)', as illustrated in FIG. 6. The dimensions will be approximately 14x32.5 cm (5.6x13 inches). This hollow double Y-shaped receiver 30(1)' features a thin vertical chamber section with a Y-shaped section attached at both the top and bottom of the vertical section. Like the I-shaped receiver, the double Y-shaped receiver 30(1)' is sealed to capture the water vapor upon heating and likewise features a condensate tube 36' placed inside. An opening at the top of the receiver 30(1)' directs the clean water vapor to a vapor tube coupled to an adjacent receiver.

    [0039] As noted above, the distillation tube 36 extends through each of the receivers 30(1)-30(n) but is separate from the process water 52 circulating within each receiver. The distillation tube 36 thus provides the outlet for the water vapor to escape the distillation chamber of the receiver. This tube could be directed to a heat exchanger where the incoming process water will pass over the tube to cool the vapor so that water is formed and then collected into a purified water storage tank or pond. The distilled vapor in the condensate tube never intermingles with the process water.

    [0040] The condensate tube runs "counter current" to the flow within the receiver. The condensate tube is formed within the receiver so that the flow of the steam is in an opposite direction to the process water. This allows the water vapor to release its heat into the flow of the process water to advantageously increase the efficiency of the cycle as the heat contained in the water vapor is returned into the cycle.

    [0041] As noted above, the vacuum pump or system 72 may be used to lower the temperature at which water turns from a liquid into a vapor. A vacuum may also be applied to the port where the water vapor exits the receiver. The vacuum can be applied separately to each receiver or daisy chained in series. At the end of the vacuum line and before entering the vacuum pump 72, the condensate will enter a separator to remove the distilled water from the air column.

    [0042] As also noted above, a plurality of auxiliary heat sources 42(1)-42(n) may be positioned underneath the plurality of receivers 30(1)-30(n) to allow for low or no sun operation. The auxiliary heat sources 42(1)-42(n) may be gas burners, for example, and when ignited, provides a heat source on the receivers 30(1)-30(n) for the distillation process when solar conditions are not sufficient for the process to occur.

    [0043] The pump 70 moves the process water throughout the receivers 30(1)-30(n). The pump 70 includes controls to vary the flow rate of the process water 50. The flow of the process water may be slowed so that a much larger percentage of the process water is vaporized. As a result, salt or containments remaining from the evaporated process water accumulates to form a sludge in the last receiver 30(n)". To force the sludge out of the last receiver 30(n)", an auger 100" is included therein. The auger 100" forces the accumulated sludge out an exit port. The condensate tube 36" runs through the center of the auger 100". A motor 102" coupled to the last receiver 30(n)" drives the auger 100".

    [0044] To further increase the efficiency of collecting and directing solar energy to the receivers 30(1)-30(n), each solar panel 40(1) may comprise a plurality of tunable solar collector panels carried by a base. Each solar collector panel may be tuned or biased in terms of position so that the sun's radiation as reflected from each solar collector panel is more accurately aligned on the focal line where the receiver 30(1) is positioned so as to maximize the amount of energy received.

    [0045] Collectively the solar collector panels may have a parabolic shape, and are separate from one another. Coupled to the solar collector panels are panel positioning devices. The panel positioning devices move the solar collector panels based on optical sensor devices that are used to determine alignment of the respective focal lines where the receivers are positioned so as to maximize the amount of energy received.

    [0046] Yet another feature of the above-described receivers 30(1)-30(n) is to position the metal receivers within within glass tube sections. The glass tube sections prevent heat from the metal receivers from escaping. Each glass tube section interfaces with an adjacent glass tube section via an expansion baffle. Metal seals at the ends of the glass tube sections are coupled to the expansion baffle. The expansion baffle allows for expansion and contraction of the metal seals so as to avoid breakage to the glass tube sections. A vacuum may also be pulled through the glass tube sections.

    [0047] Even though process water 50 is flowing through the receivers 30(1)-30(n), a heat transfer fluid (HTF) may be flowed instead. The heated HTF would then power a heat pump. The heat may then be fed to a multi-effect or multi-stage distillation system that evaporates the freshwater from the seawater or contaminated water.

    [0048] As an alternative to the condensate tube running "counter current" to the flow within the receivers, the condensate tube may run "co-current" to the flow within the receivers. The purified process water would exit the last receiver along with the process water out.

    [0049] Another aspect is directed to a method for processing process water 50 to purified process water 60 using the solar distillation system 20. From the start (Block 202), the method comprises reflecting sunlight from the plurality of solar panels 40(1)-40(n) to the plurality of receivers 30(1)-30(n) at Block 204. The process water 50 is provided to the plurality of receivers 30(1)-30(n) at Block 206, with the process water flowing from the first receiver 30(1) to the last receiver 30(n) and being heated by the reflected sunlight. Water vapor is generated at Block 208 within each receiver as the process water 50 is heated. The water vapor flows via the respective vapor tubes 32 between the adjacent receivers towards the last receiver 30(n). The water vapor is provided from the return vapor tube 34 at the last receiver 30(n) to the distillation tube 36 at Block 210. As the water vapor travels through the distillation tube 36 the water vapor changes to a liquid, with the liquid being the purified process water 60. The method ends at Block 212.

    [0050] Another embodiment of a multi-effect solar distillation system 300 using a heat transfer fluid (HTF) will now be discussed in reference to FIG. 10. The illustrated multi-effect solar distillation system 320 includes a plurality of receivers 330(1)-330(n) and a plurality of solar panels 440(1)-440(n) adjacent the plurality of receivers. Each receiver is positioned within a focal point of a respective solar panel. Instead of heating the process water within the receivers 330(1)-330(n) as with the above embodiment, a heat transfer fluid (HTF) is heated. The HTF may be mineral oil or glycol, for example.

    [0051] An HTF storage 380 provides the HTF that flows through the receivers 330(1)-330(n) to be heated. A pump 370 moves the HTF through the receivers 30(1)-30(n), and includes controls to vary the flow rate of the HTF.

    [0052] The HTF is heated as it flows through each of the receivers 330(1)-330(n). As with the process water 50 above, the HTF is heated in stages, with each receiver corresponding to a stage. A multi-stage or multi-effect approach to heating the HTF is efficient since each stage essentially reuses the energy from a previous stage.

    [0053] At the last receiver 330(n), the heated HTF is provided to a heat exchanger 382. The process water 350 is also provided to the heat exchanger 382 for conversion to steam. The heat exchanger 382 may be a flash heat exchanger, for example, where the heated HTF is routed through a grid. The process water 350 is then splashed or sprayed onto the grid, which then turns to water vapor and/or steam. This type of heat exchanger 382 is also known as a flash exchanger, as readily appreciated by those skilled in the art. The process water 350 does not come in contact with the HTF.

    [0054] The steam generated by the HTF heat exchanger 382 is directed to the distillation tube 336. The distillation tube 336 extends through each of the receivers 330(1)-330(n) but is separate from the HTF circulating within each receiver. The HTF provided at the output of the heat exchanger 382 is recirculated back to the HTF storage 380.

    [0055] As the steam travels through the distillation tube 336, it changes phases back to a liquid. The heat given off during this phase change is provided to each respective stage, thus further increasing the efficiency of the illustrated multi-effect solar distillation system 320. An output of the distillation tube 336 provides the purified process water 360.

    [0056] The distillation tube 336 is in contact with the HTF circulating within each receiver. The HTF advantageously allows heat to be given off as the water vapor changes phases back to a liquid. help lower the boiling temperature of the HTF as well as]

    [0057] The multi-effect solar distillation system 320 may include a vacuum pump or system 372 coupled to the distillation tube 336 to provide direction to the flow of the water vapor. In addition, a plurality of auxiliary heat sources 342(1)-342(n) may be positioned adjacent the plurality of receivers 330(1)-330(n) to allow for low or no sun operation. The auxiliary heat sources 342(1)-342(n) may be gas burners, for example.

    [0058] The distillation (i.e., condensation) tube 336 runs "counter current" to the flow within the receiver. The condensate tube is formed within the receiver so that the flow of the steam is in an opposite direction to the HTF. This allows the water vapor to release its heat into the flow of the HTF to advantageously increase the efficiency of the cycle as the heat contained in the water vapor is returned into the cycle.

    [0059] The auxiliary heat sources 342(1)-342(n) may be gas burners, for example, and when ignited, provides a heat source on the receivers 330(1)-330(n) for the distillation process when solar conditions are not sufficient for the process to occur.


    Claims

    1. A solar distillation system (20) comprising:

    a plurality of solar panels (40(1)-40(n)) configured to reflect sunlight;

    a plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) adjacent said plurality of solar panels (40(1)-40(n)) and configured to receive process water (50) to be processed to purified process water (60), said plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) comprising at least a first receiver (30(1)) and a last receiver (30(n)), with the process water (50) flowing from said first receiver (30(1)) to said last receiver (30(n)) and being heated by the reflected sunlight;

    said plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) to be connected in series, with each receiver (30(1)-30(n)) arranged to use heat energy from a previous receiver to heat the process water (50), except for said first receiver (30 (1));

    a plurality of vapor tubes (32) coupled to said plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)), with each respective vapor tube (32) coupled between adjacent receivers (30(1)-30(n)), and water vapor is generated as the process water (50) is heated within each receiver (30(1)-30(n)), with the water vapor flowing via said respective vapor tubes (32) between the adjacent receivers (30(1)-30(n)) towards said last receiver (30(n));

    a return vapor tube (34) coupled to said last receiver (30(n)); and

    a distillation tube (36) coupled to said return vapor tube (34) to receive the water vapor, with said distillation tube (36) extending through said plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) from said last receiver (30(n)) to said first receiver (30(1)), and as the water vapor travels through said distillation tube (36) the water vapor changes to a liquid, with the liquid being the purified process water (60);

    said distillation tube (36) is arranged to be in direct contact with the process water (50) within each receiver (30(1)-30(n)), and as the water vapor changes to the liquid within said distillation tube (36) heat is given off.


     
    2. The solar distillation system (20) according to Claim 1 wherein said plurality of solar panels (40(1)-40(n)) are configured as parabolic troughs, with said plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) being positioned within a focal point of said plurality of solar panels (40(1)-40(n)).
     
    3. The solar distillation system (20) according to Claim 2 wherein each receiver (30(1)-30(n)) is arranged to have at least one of an I-shape and a double Y-shape.
     
    4. The solar distillation system (20) according to Claim 1 further comprising a plurality of auxiliary heat sources (42(1)-42(n)) adjacent said plurality of receivers(30(1)-30(n)).
     
    5. The solar distillation system (20) according to Claim 1 further comprising a vacuum (72) coupled to said distillation tube (36) to direct flow of the water vapor through said plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) and said distillation tube (36).
     
    6. The solar distillation system (20) according to Claim 1 further comprising a pump coupled to said first receiver (30(1)) to control a flow rate of the process water (50) through said plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)).
     
    7. The solar distillation system (20) according to Claim 1 wherein said last receiver (30(n)) has an output (37) separate from the return vapor tube (34) that outputs the process water (50) that does not turn to water vapor.
     
    8. A method for processing process water (50) to purified process water (60) using a solar distillation system (20) comprising a plurality of solar panels (40(1)-40(n)); a plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) adjacent the plurality of solar panels (40(1)-40(n)), the plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) comprising at least a first receiver (30(1)) and a last receiver (30(n)); the plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) to be connected in series, with each receiver (30(1)-30(n)) arranged to use heat energy from a previous receiver to heat the process water (50), except for said first receiver (30(n));_a plurality of vapor tubes (32) coupled to the plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)), with each respective vapor tube (32) coupled between adjacent receivers (30(1)-30(n)); a return vapor tube (34) coupled to the last receiver (30(n)); and a distillation tube (36) coupled to the return vapor tube (34), with the distillation tube (36) extending through the plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)) from the last receiver (30(n)) to the first receiver (30(1)), the method comprising:

    reflecting sunlight from the plurality of solar panels (40(1)-40(n)) to the plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n));

    providing the process water (50) to the plurality of receivers (30(1)-30(n)), with the process water (50) flowing from the first receiver (30(1)) to the last receiver (30(n)) and being heated by the reflected sunlight;

    generating water vapor within each receiver (30(1)-30(n)) as the process water (50) is heated, with the water vapor flowing via the respective vapor tubes (32) between the adjacent receivers (30(1)-30(n)) towards the last receiver (30(n)); and

    providing the water vapor from the return vapor tube (34) at the last receiver (30(n)) to the distillation tube (36), and as the water vapor travels through the distillation tube (36) the water vapor changes to a liquid, with the liquid being the purified process water (60), with the distillation tube (36) arranged to be in direct contact with the process water (50) within each receiver (30(1)-30(n)), and as the water vapor changes to the liquid within the distillation tube (36) heat is given off.


     
    9. The method according to Claim 8 wherein each receiver (30(1)-30(n)) is arranged to be filled by the process water (50) except for an air gap (35) so as to allow the water vapor to develop.
     
    10. The method according to Claim 9 wherein the distillation tube (36) is arranged to extend through each receiver (30(1)-30(n)) below the air gap (35).
     
    11. The method according to Claim 9 wherein each vapor tube (32) is arranged to extend between the air gaps (35) in adjacent receivers (30(1)-30(n)).
     
    12. The method according to Claim 9 wherein each receiver (30(1)-30(n)) is arranged to have a given volume, and the air gap (35) is about 10 to 20% of the given volume.
     
    13. The method according to Claim 8 wherein the process water (50) comprises at least one of sea water, frac water and waste water.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Solardestillationssystem (20), umfassend:

    mehrere Solarpanele (40(1)-40(n)), die so konfiguriert sind, dass sie Sonnenlicht reflektieren;

    mehrere Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)), die an die mehreren Solarpanele (40(1)-40(n)) angrenzen und so konfiguriert sind, dass sie Prozesswasser (50) empfangen, das zu gereinigtem Prozesswasser (60) verarbeitet werden soll, wobei die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) mindestens einen ersten Empfänger (30(1)) und einen letzten Empfänger (30(n)) umfassen, wobei das Prozesswasser (50) vom ersten Empfänger (30(1)) zum letzten Empfänger (30(n)) fließt und durch das reflektierte Sonnenlicht erwärmt wird;

    wobei die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) in Reihe zu schalten sind, wobei jeder Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) so angeordnet ist, dass er Wärmeenergie von einem vorhergehenden Empfänger zum Erwärmen des Prozesswassers (50) verwendet, mit Ausnahme des ersten Empfängers (30(1));

    mehrere Dampfrohre (32), die mit den mehreren Empfängern (30(1)-30(n)) gekoppelt sind, wobei jedes jeweilige Dampfrohr (32) zwischen benachbarte Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) gekoppelt ist und Wasserdampf erzeugt wird, wenn das Prozesswasser (50) in jedem Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) erwärmt wird, wobei der Wasserdampf über die jeweiligen Dampfrohre (32) zwischen den benachbarten Empfängern (30(1)-30(n)) zum letzten Empfänger (30(n)) fließt;

    ein Rücklaufdampfrohr (34), das an den letzten Empfänger (30(n)) gekoppelt ist; und

    ein Destillationsrohr (36), das an das Rücklaufdampfrohr (34) gekoppelt ist, um den Wasserdampf aufzunehmen, wobei sich das Destillationsrohr (36) durch die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) von dem letzten Empfänger (30(n)) zu dem ersten Empfänger (30(1)) erstreckt und der Wasserdampf, wenn der Wasserdampf durch das Destillationsrohr (36) fließt, in eine Flüssigkeit übergeht, wobei die Flüssigkeit das gereinigte Prozesswasser (60) ist;

    das Destillationsrohr (36) so angeordnet ist, dass es in direktem Kontakt mit dem Prozesswasser (50) in jedem Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) steht, und wenn der Wasserdampf in dem Destillationsrohr (36) in die Flüssigkeit übergeht, wird Wärme abgegeben.


     
    2. Solardestillationssystem (20) nach Anspruch 1, wobei die mehreren Solarpanele (40(1)-40(n)) als Parabolrinnen konfiguriert sind, wobei die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) in einem Brennpunkt der mehreren Solarpanele (40(1)-40(n)) angeordnet sind.
     
    3. Solardestillationssystem (20) nach Anspruch 2, wobei jeder Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) so angeordnet ist, dass er mindestens eine I-Form oder eine doppelte Y-Form aufweist.
     
    4. Solardestillationssystem (20) nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend mehrere Hilfswärmequellen (42(1)-42 (n)), die an die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) angrenzen.
     
    5. Solardestillationssystem (20) nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend ein Vakuum (72), das an das Destillationsrohr (36) gekoppelt ist, um den Wasserdampf durch die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) und das Destillationsrohr (36) zu leiten.
     
    6. Solardestillationssystem (20) nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend eine Pumpe, die mit dem ersten Empfänger (30(1)) gekoppelt ist, um die Durchflussmenge des Prozesswassers (50) durch die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) zu steuern.
     
    7. Solardestillationssystem (20) nach Anspruch 1, wobei der letzte Empfänger (30(n)) einen vom Rücklaufdampfrohr (34) getrennten Ausgang (37) aufweist, der das Prozesswasser (50) ausgibt, das sich nicht in Wasserdampf verwandelt.
     
    8. Verfahren zur Verarbeitung von Prozesswasser (50) zu gereinigtem Prozesswasser (60) unter Verwendung eines Solardestillationssystems (20), umfassend mehrere Solarpanele (40(1)-40(n)); mehrere Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) benachbart zu den mehreren Solarpanelen (40(1)-40(n)), wobei die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) mindestens einen ersten Empfänger (30(1)) und einen letzten Empfänger (30(n)) umfassen; mehrere in Reihe zu schaltende Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)), wobei jeder Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) so angeordnet ist, dass er Wärmeenergie von einem vorhergehenden Empfänger zum Erwärmen des Prozesswassers (50) verwendet, mit Ausnahme des ersten Empfängers (30(n));_mehrere Dampfrohre (32), die mit den mehreren Empfängern (30(1)-30(n)) gekoppelt sind, wobei jedes jeweilige Dampfrohr (32) zwischen die benachbarten Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) gekoppelt ist; ein Rücklaufdampfrohr (34), das mit dem letzten Empfänger (30(n)) gekoppelt ist; und ein Destillationsrohr (36), das mit dem Rücklaufdampfrohr (34) gekoppelt ist, wobei sich das Destillationsrohr (36) durch die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) vom letzten Empfänger (30(n)) zum ersten Empfänger (30(1)) erstreckt, das Verfahren umfassend:

    Reflektieren des Sonnenlichts von den mehreren Solarpanelen (40(1)-40(n)) an die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n));

    Bereitstellen des Prozesswassers (50) für die mehreren Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)), wobei das Prozesswasser (50) vom ersten Empfänger (30(1)) zum letzten Empfänger (30(n)) fließt und durch das reflektierte Sonnenlicht erwärmt wird;

    Erzeugen von Wasserdampf in jedem Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)), wenn das Prozesswasser (50) erwärmt wird, wobei der Wasserdampf über die jeweiligen Dampfrohre (32) zwischen den benachbarten Empfängern (30(1)-30(n)) zum letzten Empfänger (30(n)) fließt; und

    Bereitstellen des Wasserdampfes aus dem Rücklaufdampfrohr (34) am letzten Empfänger (30(n)) zum Destillationsrohr (36), und wenn der Wasserdampf durch das Destillationsrohr (36) strömt, geht der Wasserdampf in eine Flüssigkeit über, wobei die Flüssigkeit das gereinigte Prozesswasser (60) ist, wobei das Destillationsrohr (36) so angeordnet ist, dass es in direktem Kontakt mit dem Prozesswasser (50) in jedem Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) steht, und wenn der Wasserdampf in die Flüssigkeit im Destillationsrohr (36) übergeht, Wärme abgegeben wird.


     
    9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 8, wobei jeder Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) so angeordnet ist, dass er bis auf einen Luftspalt (35) mit dem Prozesswasser (50) gefüllt wird, so dass sich der Wasserdampf entwickeln kann.
     
    10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9, wobei das Destillationsrohr (36) so angeordnet ist, dass es sich durch jeden Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) unterhalb des Luftspalts (35) erstreckt.
     
    11. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9, wobei jedes Dampfrohr (32) so angeordnet ist, dass es sich zwischen den Luftspalten (35) in benachbarten Empfängern (30(1)-30(n)) erstreckt.
     
    12. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9, wobei jeder Empfänger (30(1)-30(n)) so angeordnet ist, dass er ein gegebenes Volumen aufweist, und der Luftspalt (35) etwa 10 bis 20 % des gegebenen Volumens beträgt.
     
    13. Verfahren nach Anspruch 8, wobei das Prozesswasser (50) mindestens eines von Meerwasser, Fracking-Wasser und Abwasser umfasst.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système de distillation solaire (20) comprenant:

    une pluralité de panneaux solaires (40(1)-40(n)) configurés pour réfléchir la lumière du soleil ;

    une pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) adjacents à ladite pluralité de panneaux solaires (40(1)-40(n)) et configurés pour recevoir de l'eau de traitement (50) à traiter en eau de traitement purifiée (60), ladite pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) comprenant au moins un premier récepteur (30(1)) et un dernier récepteur (30(n)), l'eau de traitement (50) s'écoulant dudit premier récepteur (30(1)) vers ledit dernier récepteur (30(n)) et étant chauffé par la lumière solaire réfléchie ;

    ladite pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) devant être connectés en série, chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)) étant conçu pour utiliser l'énergie thermique d'un récepteur précédent pour chauffer l'eau de traitement (50), à l'exception dudit premier récepteur (30(1)) ;

    une pluralité de tubes à vapeur (32) couplés à ladite pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)), chaque tube à vapeur respectif (32) étant couplé entre des récepteurs adjuvants (30(1)-30(n)), et de la vapeur d'eau est générée lorsque l'eau de traitement (50) est chauffée à l'intérieur de chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)), la vapeur d'eau s'écoulant via lesdits tubes de vapeur respectifs (32) entre les récepteurs adjoints (30(1)-30(n)) vers ledit dernier récepteur (30 (n)) ;

    un tube de vapeur de retour (34) couplé audit dernier récepteur (30(n)) ; et

    un tube de distillation (36) couplé audit tube de vapeur de retour (34) pour recevoir la vapeur d'eau, ledit tube de distillation (36) s'étendant à travers ladite pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) à partir dudit dernier récepteur (30(n)) vers ledit premier récepteur (30(1)), et lorsque la vapeur d'eau se déplace à travers ledit tube de distillation (36), la vapeur d'eau se transforme en liquide, le liquide étant l'eau de traitement purifiée (60) ;

    ledit tube de distillation (36) est conçu pour être en contact direct avec l'eau de traitement (50) à l'intérieur de chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)), et lorsque la vapeur d'eau se transforme en liquide dans ledit tube de distillation (36) la chaleur est dégagée.


     
    2. Système de distillation solaire (20) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ladite pluralité de panneaux solaires (40(1)-40(n)) sont configurés comme des auges paraboliques, ladite pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) étant positionnée à l'intérieur d'un point focal de ladite pluralité de panneaux solaires (40(1)-40(n)).
     
    3. Système de distillation solaire (20) selon la revendication 2, dans lequel chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)) est agencé pour avoir au moins une forme en I et une forme en Y double.
     
    4. Système de distillation solaire (20) selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre une pluralité de sources de chaleur auxiliaires (42(1)-42(n)) adjacentes à ladite pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)).
     
    5. Système de distillation solaire (20) selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre un vide (72) couplé à audit tube de distillation (36) pour diriger l'écoulement de la vapeur d'eau à travers ladite pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) et ledit tube de distillation (36).
     
    6. Système de distillation solaire (20) selon la revendication 1, comprenant en outre une pompe couplée audit premier récepteur (30(1)) pour contrôler un débit de l'eau de traitement (50) à travers ladite pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)).
     
    7. Système de distillation solaire (20) selon la revendication 1, dans lequel ledit dernier récepteur (30(n)) a une sortie (37) séparée du tube de retour de vapeur (34) qui délivre l'eau de traitement (50) qui ne se transforme pas en vapeur d'eau.
     
    8. Procédé de traitement de l'eau de traitement (50) en eau de traitement purifiée (60) à l'aide d'un système de distillation solaire (20) comprenant une pluralité de panneaux solaires (40(1)-40(n)) ; une pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) adjacents à la pluralité de panneaux solaires (40(1)-40(n)), la pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) comprenant au moins au moins un premier récepteur (30(1)) et un dernier récepteur (30(n)) ; la pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) devant être connectée en série, chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)) étant conçu pour utiliser l'énergie thermique d'un récepteur précédent pour chauffer l'eau de traitement (50), à l'exception dudit premier récepteur (30(n)) ; une pluralité de tubes à vapeur (32) couplés à la pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)), chaque tube à vapeur respectif (32) étant couplé entre des récepteurs adjoints (30(1)-30(n)) ; un tube de vapeur de retour (34) couplé au dernier récepteur (30(n)) ; et un tube de distillation (36) couplé au tube de vapeur de retour (34), le tube de distillation (36) s'étendant à travers la pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) du dernier récepteur (30(n)) au premier récepteur (30(1)), le procédé comprenant de:

    réfléchir la lumière solaire de la pluralité de panneaux solaires (40(1)-40(n)) vers la pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)) ;

    fournir l'eau de traitement (50) à la pluralité de récepteurs (30(1)-30(n)), l'eau de traitement (50) s'écoulant du premier récepteur (30(1)) vers le dernier récepteur(30(n)) et étant chauffée par la lumière solaire réfléchie ;

    générer de la vapeur d'eau dans chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)) lorsque l'eau de traitement (50) est chauffée, la vapeur d'eau s'écoulant via les tubes de vapeur respectifs (32) entre les récepteurs adjoints (30(1)-30(n)) vers le dernier récepteur (30(n)) ; et

    fournir la vapeur d'eau du tube de vapeur de retour (34) au niveau du dernier récepteur (30(n)) au tube de distillation (36), et lorsque la vapeur d'eau se déplace à travers le tube de distillation (36), la vapeur d'eau se transforme en un liquide, le liquide étant l'eau de traitement purifiée (60), le tube de distillation (36) étant disposé pour être en contact direct avec l'eau de traitement (50) à l'intérieur de chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)), et lorsque la vapeur d'eau se transforme en liquide dans le tube de distillation (36), la chaleur est dégagée.


     
    9. Procédé selon la revendication 8, dans lequel chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)) est agencé pour être rempli par l'eau de traitement (50) à l'exception d'un entrefer (35) de manière à permettre à la vapeur d'eau de se développer.
     
    10. Procédé selon la revendication 9, dans lequel le tube de distillation (36) est agencé pour s'étendre à travers chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)) en dessous de l'entrefer (35).
     
    11. Procédé selon la revendication 9, dans lequel chaque tube à vapeur (32) est agencé pour s'étendre entre les entrefers (35) dans des récepteurs adjacents (30(1)-30(n)).
     
    12. Procédé selon la revendication 9, dans lequel chaque récepteur (30(1)-30(n)) est agencé pour avoir un volume donné, et l'entrefer (35) est d'environ 10 à 20 % du volume donné.
     
    13. Procédé selon la revendication 8, dans lequel l'eau de traitement (50) comprend au moins l'une de l'eau de mer, de l'eau de fracturation et des eaux usées.
     




    Drawing






























    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description