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davidmcsweeney
(@davidmcsweeney)
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G'day mates,

I live out of Perth in a rural area on a 13 acre property. As such we have our own water supply. This consists of collecting rainwater from the roofs of our 2 dwellings into a 135,000 litre water tank. This water is for household use and we rely on the rainy season to fill it up each year. Where we live, we may go 3 to 6 months without rain over summer so when the tank gets low we have to watch our water consumption. We also have a bore (60 metres deep) and the water from this is quite good but has small flecks of iron deposits in it. We use this for watering the gardens, orchard and animals.

We want to set up a process where we could distill the bore water and then drip feed it into the main tank. I have yet to design the actual distillation unit but figured I could handle most of the electronic control systems using an Arduino (or 2). We will use a 12 VDC pump to get water from our small 1,000 litre header tank - the pumping process only needs to be low volume and speed. I also want to flush out the distillation unit each time it needs filling to remove any residue left behind after the water has been distilled. I plan to use sensors to detect high and low water levels and a servo motor to open and close the flush valve.

This idea just came to me last night. (The project is on my list of things to do for this year.) So far, I started the design process and have developed an outline and some flow charts. There are actually two processes:

  1. Flow control for the distillation unit, and
  2. Charging the 12 VDC battery / batteries using a charge controller with a small solar panel. (I've already built one of these for a different project I've been working on with a student I tutor.)

As I go along, I may have some questions that people could help me with so I'll post them here. Feel free to have a look at the attached beginnings of my project design.

Cheers,

David

This topic was modified 1 week ago 2 times by davidmcsweeney

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hayttom
(@hayttom)
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Joined: 3 months ago
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Hi David,

 

Wow - Western Australia seems to have a lot of members on this forum!

 

I'd like to ask some overall questions, just out of interest.  First, could you expand your rainwater catchment with something like a roof over a patio / BBQ, etc?  Second, are literally going to distill the borehole water?  Couldn't you just filter the iron flecks out?  How much energy will distillation require?  Maybe you're not going to be at all short of solar power.  I'm asking these questions to learn, not to look clever.

 

Tom

 

 

Tom


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hayttom
(@hayttom)
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[It seems I have to add a reply if I want to subscribe after making my previous reply?]

Tom


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davidmcsweeney
(@davidmcsweeney)
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@hayttom

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your questions. Questions are good as they give me something to think about. (The thing about our bore water is that we appear to have accessed an absolutely enormous underground reservoir which will probably keep going for many years. We can drink the water as it is in an emergency but it would be better cleaned up.)

Yes, we've looked at these various options.

  1. Expanding our water catchment - this is something we will be doing anyway.
  2. Distilling the bore water is very low cost for us. All the work is done by the sun (we have a lot of this, even in winter). The only power required is for the pump (when required) and running the electronics (very low power). By using rechargeable batteries and a solar panel, this will also be supplied by the sun.
  3. Filtering is an option but you then have to regularly change the filters otherwise they could get clogged up (I imagine - we haven't tried this yet). This is not easy to automate which is what we really want to do. Hence the idea of flushing our distillation unit each time it empties before re-filling it with water.

Our distillation unit still needs to be designed but the basic concept is to have a container sitting on our roof which has a clear lid. The sun evaporates the water which then collects on the inside of the lid and gravity feeds into our main tank. Things to consider are:

  • Types of materials to use that won't degrade in our (at times) intense heat.
  • An efficient method of collecting and piping the water so that it gravity feeds into our main tank.
  • Lots of design and testing to be done both for the physical components and the electronics.
  • Probably other questions will arise as we progress.

Any thoughts you may have are always welcome.

Cheers,

David

 


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hayttom
(@hayttom)
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Joined: 3 months ago
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Hi David,

 

Thank you for welcoming and answering my questions.  I had not realized that distillation could be by passive solar energy - that's wonderful.  I think I was thinking of a more 'alcoholic' configuration....

Clearly you'll have a lot of fascinating control and monitoring challenges and I'm keen to see your progress and solutions.

 

Tom

 

Tom


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davidmcsweeney
(@davidmcsweeney)
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Joined: 1 week ago
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Topic starter  
Charge Controller

Here's the circuit diagram for the charge controller. I got this off a guy on YouTube who posted it a couple of years ago. Here are the details if anyone is interested.

Wind/Solar Arduino Charge Controller” posted by Iain Portalupi on YouTube (URL:

)

I have actually built this (plus a modified version to reduce it in size) and it works fine for charging the battery.

My questions, for anyone interested, are:

  1. Is there a more efficient way of achieving this?
  2. What components are recommended? I've watched Bill's video about Solid State relays and wonder if they would be better to use given the environment it will be used in (outside but protected in some sort of enclosure).
  3. Do you think I will be able to use this battery to run the 12 V pump while it is in the charging circuit?

Anyone offering answers to these questions will be greatly appreciated. 

Cheers,

David


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davidmcsweeney
(@davidmcsweeney)
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@hayttom

Thanks Tom


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codecage
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@davidmcsweeney

To your questions I might offer this (but by no means are these the only answers):

1.) Seems rather efficient to me.  At least from the point of view of using an Arduino to control the charging of the battery.

2.) As Iain mentions, rather offhandedly, instead of dedicating an entire UNO to the finished charge controller, I would build out a circuit using just an ATmega328 itself and the supporting components it needs to operate on its own.  In fact in the finished form of the project I would produce a PCB to bring everything together.  As for solid state relays they should be able to handle this task.

3.) Well, that depends, how much current is the pump going to draw?  Is the solar panel that you are using going to be able to handle the current needed to run the pump as well as the current to charge the battery in a reasonable amount of time, while still running the pimp.  Like from sunup to sundown.

Hope this helps, but might make for more questions than answers!

SteveG


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davidmcsweeney
(@davidmcsweeney)
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@codecage

Thanks Steve,

Yes, you are thinking along the same lines as me. We are currently looking at various options. One of these is at FCubed, which simply uses a drip method.

These units are a lot more than we would spend (AUD$4,150 for a 5 panel system). If I can replicate this simply, we won't need any electronics, just a solar-powered drip-feed pump. Still a lot of research to do on this.

Cheers,

David


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codecage
(@codecage)
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Joined: 2 years ago
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@davidmcsweeney

This is totally different than what I was envisioning!  The water runs directly through the solar panels, so it appears that the panels don't generate power, but just evaporate and distill water.  I guess there must be power generating solar panel that need the charge controller for the battery and pump.

SteveG


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davidmcsweeney
(@davidmcsweeney)
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@codecage

Yes, different to what I had in mind as well. My only question for our case, is what happens to the residue that must inevitably build up within the panels/system over time. In my previous model, I was going to build in a "flushing" component but this would not fit this new approach without some modification.


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butch
(@butch)
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Joined: 1 month ago
Posts: 11
 
Posted by: @davidmcsweeney

G'day mates,

I live out of Perth in a rural area on a 13 acre property. As such we have our own water supply. This consists of collecting rainwater from the roofs of our 2 dwellings into a 135,000 litre water tank. This water is for household use and we rely on the rainy season to fill it up each year. Where we live, we may go 3 to 6 months without rain over summer so when the tank gets low we have to watch our water consumption. We also have a bore (60 metres deep) and the water from this is quite good but has small flecks of iron deposits in it. We use this for watering the gardens, orchard and animals.

We want to set up a process where we could distill the bore water and then drip feed it into the main tank. I have yet to design the actual distillation unit but figured I could handle most of the electronic control systems using an Arduino (or 2). We will use a 12 VDC pump to get water from our small 1,000 litre header tank - the pumping process only needs to be low volume and speed. I also want to flush out the distillation unit each time it needs filling to remove any residue left behind after the water has been distilled. I plan to use sensors to detect high and low water levels and a servo motor to open and close the flush valve.

This idea just came to me last night. (The project is on my list of things to do for this year.) So far, I started the design process and have developed an outline and some flow charts. There are actually two processes:

  1. Flow control for the distillation unit, and
  2. Charging the 12 VDC battery / batteries using a charge controller with a small solar panel. (I've already built one of these for a different project I've been working on with a student I tutor.)

As I go along, I may have some questions that people could help me with so I'll post them here. Feel free to have a look at the attached beginnings of my project design.

Cheers,

David

there is a filter unit that will take out iron calsium and other material it back flushes to clean it self. if you plumbed the unit correct you could make good water from well and back flush using good water it made to garden water. 500 to 1200 usa dollars range of cost.


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davidmcsweeney
(@davidmcsweeney)
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@butch

Thanks. Do you have a reference or website where I could look at it?


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frogandtoad
(@frogandtoad)
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Posts: 670
 

@davidmcsweeney

This may be of interest to you:

Make your own water filter and never buy drinking water again.

Cheers.


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davidmcsweeney
(@davidmcsweeney)
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@frogandtoad

Thank you 🙂


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