Solar And Desal – A Winning Combination For Jain and MIT

Jain and MIT Win Desal Prize

When I learned a team of scientist’s from MIT and Jain Irrigation Systems Limited were getting together to use solar and desal together my comfort level for solving our water issues worldwide increased dramatically. Last week a competition was held by USAID and the Bureau of Reclamation to see which team could develop the best desal system for crops in arid places. Five teams entered the competition and the team from MIT and Jain bagged the first prize and $140,000 in prize money. The purpose of the competition is to ‘secure water for food’ by creating cost-efficient and energy-efficient technologies for potable water. This new technology is based on the Electro-dialysis-Reversal principle. The system is powered by solar, and it desalinates the brackish water into drinking quality water. The salient features of this path-breaking technology

  1. Brackish water up to 5000 ppm. salinity is converted into drinking quality water in a single pass using prefiltration, ED-R followed by UV
  2. The system operates on solar PV
  3. Water recovery is above 90%. 5-10% reject concentrate is dried in a solar pond without creating any environmental hazard
  4. It removes hardness as well as salts and chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers as well as micro-organisms
  5. Compared to the RO process, this process is most energy-efficient & hence cost of water purification is low & affordable; ED membrane has long life (about 10 years);
  6. This technology can be used for community-based safe & economical production of drinking water as per the WHO Standard from saline or brackish water. This will be useful for agriculture too.

This technology has the potential to bring agriculture to vast barren lands using brackish water. In addition to the prize money, USAID will be providing an additional $150,000 for further development and commercialization of the technology. On April 9th to 11th, five finalist innovator teams competed for $200,000 in prize funds in head-to-head demonstrations at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico.  After rigorous testing and evaluation by a panel of expert judges, two winning teams were chosen. These two teams and a team that received an honorable mention will be eligible to receive grant funds totaling $400,000 to implement pilot projects in late summer or early fall with small-holder rural farmers in a USAID mission region.

Mr. Anil Jain, Managing Director, Jain Irrigation Systems Limited, said “We are very happy to have received this prestigious award amongst the global competition and are very thankful to technology leadership and vision provided by MIT team and support of TATA projects.   I congratulate the entire JISL & MIT team for their stupendous effort. We look forward to commercializing the technology in the near future with the help of our partners. Jain is committed to addressing water challenges being faced by India and other nations and will continue to inspire innovation to bring affordable and sustainable solutions for the benefit to citizens and farmers alike”. Often I tell myself the way to win this battle against water waste is through technology and conservation. Learning about a contest encouraging the development of technology to solve water issues, and the quality of the teams entering is helping me sleep a lot better these days.  If you enjoyed this post please subscribe of considering following me on twitter @H2oTrends.


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3 Responses

  1. Dear Richard, my name is Giuseppe Provenzano and I teach irrigation systems at university of Palermo. I am interested to know if this techology is commercially available. I would use it for research purposes, with the aim to verify its suitability for irrigation . My mail address is Looking forward your prompt answer, I send you my best wishes for the approaching new year.

  2. Dear Richard
    I am very interested in your ED R technology and am very interested in knowing everything about this.
    It is well known about your expliots around the world and I would like to do the same here in New Zealand on my land.
    This land is over 100 hectare with our nieghbours the would be over 3000 hectare.
    Looking at prices as this tech should skyrocket in the future. My name is Hiwa Brown my email is

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