Frequently Asked Questions
Does it make electricity?
* No, though we could adapt the SAROS unit to making electricity. Our goal is to produce fresh water for people in need and we’ve found the economics to be more favorable to focusing directly on producing water. By skipping the middle step of generating electricity and going directly to desalinating water, the process becomes more efficient, simpler, and less expensive.
What is desalination?
Desalination is removing salt from water. With SAROS, we’re able to take seawater and remove enough salt to make it drinkable or to be used for irrigation.
How much water does a SAROS unit make?
One SAROS machine can make around 3500 gallons per day, and we can group units together to provide up to 50,000 gallons per site (10-20 units).
Could they use this in California?
Sure, they could use SAROS in California. They can use it anywhere located near an ocean. But California has such a dense and large population that our device may not be the best option for their widespread drought conditions. Desalination has a wide-range of useful scales – you can find large desalination plants that make 50 million gallons a day and simpler systems that make just 100 gallons a day. Just like you can’t supply Los Angeles’ power demands with a single wind farm, you’re not going to supply Los Angeles’ water sup-ply need with wave-powered desalination unit. But a SAROS unit could definitely aid smaller communities and townships in need and these are our target markets.
How much does the water produced by a SAROS unit cost?
We’re on track to bring the cost of a gallon of desalinated water to 6/10 of penny (0.6 cents) using the SAROS unit. Non-desalinated water is less expensive because it’s purified fresh water (usually from lake or ground water). For example, in Charlotte, North Carolina (non-desalinated) water from a utility costs 3/10 of a penny. In Malibu, California water from a utility costs 8/10 of a cent due to demand and water shortage conditions. Desalinated water costs more but it’s the only affordable, sustainable solution for smaller communities located near the ocean. For example, in the Virgin Islands it costs about 1.8 cents per gallon to buy water from a utility. SAROS’ water is about a third of that price.
How do you get the water back to shore?
Currently we simply pump the water back to shore through a small, flexible hose.
Why hasn’t anyone done this before?
The time for a wave-powered desalination unit has never been better than right now. Environmental concerns and water shortages are some of the hottest topics today. Innovation and development require the right amount of ingredients – money, motivation, and knowledge – to make things happen. We have a very unique combination of those things that allows us to tackle something that others haven’t followed through on in the past.
Who needs/could benefit from a SAROS unit?
Over 230 million people living on islands and in coastal communities lack access to fresh water and lack the resources and infrastructure to use traditional methods of retrieving water for drinking, washing, and cooking with. These are the target populations for a SAROS unit. Though really anybody looking for a less-expensive, environmentally-friendly, sustainable source of desalinated water could use a SAROS unit as long as they lived close to the ocean.
How much water do people really need?
Really it depends on the situation. A typical US household (family of 4) uses 400 gallons a day. [The average person in the US uses about 80-120 gallons of water per day.] The largest use of household water is flushing a toilet. In “developing areas” the World Health Organization reports that individuals use 11.6 gallons of water per day. In an emergency an individual needs only 2 gallons of drinking of water to survive, where as 5-10 gallons would be required for eating, drinking and basic sanitation. This means that in an emergency, one SAROS unit could provide drinking water for 1,750 people. Or one unit could provide the daily water requirements in a “developing area” for over 300 people.
Are we really running out of water? There seems to be lots of water where I live.
Water usage and conservation are probably some of the most poorly understood concepts today. Water is finite resource but very few people treat it like one. The global average water footprint is 1,000 gallons of water per day which includes domestic, industrial and agricultural usage. Domestic water use (household) is 8% of that total. Industrial use is 22% (i.e. food processing or clothing manufacturing) and agricultural is 70% (irrigation). It takes water to make the clothes we wear and the food we eat, let alone to get a drink when we’re thirsty. As water resources diminish around the world we will all be impacted. Coming up with sustainable solutions for our global water needs becomes more compelling every day.