• The winners of the $140,000* first prize were a group from MIT and Jain Irrigation Systems. The group came up with a method that uses solar panels to charge a bank of batteries. The batteries then power a system that removes salt from the water through electrodialysis.
  • On the most basic level, that means that dissolved salt particles, which have a slight electric charge, are drawn out of the water when a small electrical current is applied. In addition to getting rid of salt (which makes water unusable for crops and for drinking), the team also applied UV light to disinfect some of the water as it passed through the system.
  • The next step is to test it in an even harsher environment, exposing it to everyday use with rural farmers in an area where USAID is active. If all goes well, the system could provide enough water to irrigate a small farm.

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