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According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), 783 million people do not have access to a reliable clean water source. With this many people in the world without access to clean water, a solution to this problem is highly essential. The objective of this project is to create a low-cost compact desalination unit that can be used to turn contaminated water into pure drinking. For our design, a direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) approach was used. The DCMD system allows only for the evaporated feed water to pass through the membrane and therefore causes an increase in the amount of clean drinking water in the permeate tank. A diagram of the system and its components can be found below. The DCMD process provides a system that uses much lower temperatures and pressures than other distillation processes, thus requiring a considerably smaller amount of energy. Along with consuming low amounts of energy, the final design is a fraction of the cost of other desalination units. The low cost and low energy design will permit areas clean drinking water that previously could not afford more expensive systems. Based on experimental data and the size of this unit, a 0.39 liter increase in clean water, per day is possible. The design is simple enough that minor part upgrades or larger scaled models can be made, allowing for an increase in the clean water output.

Publication Date



mechanical and nuclear engineering, desalination


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

James McLeskey

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Hooman Tafreshi

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2015

Low-Cost Desalination Unit: Direct Contact Membrane Distillation