Portable Solar Distiller

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  • 2022

Designed By:

  • Henry Glogau

Commissioned By:

Henry Glogau

Designed In:

Denmark

A low-tech solution harnessing sunlight to distil polluted and sea water. The portable design merges local resource production with community architecture, providing freshwater and a shaded gathering place. A lightweight, versatile structure configurable in different ways and materials, adapting to local environments and user needs.


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Image: Henry Glogau
Image: Henry Glogau
Image: Henry Glogau
Image: Henry Glogau
Image: Henry Glogau
Image: Henry Glogau
Image: Henry Glogau
  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • Global urbanization has created a complexity of challenges, including rapid population growth, and inequities within infrastructure and economic development. By 2050, it is predicted that 3 billion people will be living within informal settlements. Chile currently has around 110,000 families living within 800 settlements. These communities are the first to face the impact of the country’s worst water shortage in 60 years. They are excluded from accessing the benefits of urban development and public services like water and electricity. Paying for overpriced water trucks, or hacking into formal systems has been their only option for survival, leading to devastating consequences.

  • With the inevitable future challenges of resource scarcity, we must explore autonomous and sustainable systems which work with our eco-systems rather than against them. This proposal is a low-tech solution that gives communities disconnected from formal systems, the ability to produce basic resources through a passive circular system. The Portable Solar Distiller is a multifunctional architecture element that is an integrated part of the communities everyday living environment. Creating a reliable, accessible, and adaptable experience for the users, in a variety of different scenarios.

  • Through an established collaboration with a Chilean NGO called TECHO, I was introduced to a local informal settlement community called Nueva Esperanza (New Hope), in Mejillones, Chile. Throughout my month spent in Nueva Esperanza, the community became an intrinsic part of the co-creation of the Portable Solar Distiller design. The proposal encouraged the community to hack and adapt the design by harnessing their local knowledge and understanding of the available materials. This open-source and scalable approach will provide anyone in the world the recipe to create their own Portable Solar Distiller with their own local resources.

  • The Portable Solar Distiller was designed with adaptability and accessibility at its heart. The design can either be prefabricated, completely locally sourced and manufactured, or a hybrid of both. A distributed design approach provides the user with a step-by-step guide to create their own system, while encouraging the user to hack and adapt the design to best suit their needs and environmental conditions. The ambition of the design is to provide anyone in the world the recipe to create their own Portable Solar Distiller with their own local resources. The low tech and decentralized solution, utilises the power of the natural environment by harnessing sunlight to distil polluted and sea water, while also providing a rainwater capture system. Depending on the solar intensity, the design can produce between 12 – 18 litres of purified water over a 12-hour period. A key focus of the design is merging local resource production with community architecture, providing freshwater as well as a shaded community gathering place. The purpose of thinking more holistically about the design, was to encourage people to engage with resource production in an approachable and understandable way