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Desalinizan agua y la vuelven potable mediante método que usa energía solar

Fecha: 
Jue, 2014-02-13

La técnica, pensada para comunidades marginadas que habitan en las costas

La propuesta es colocar casetas tipo invernadero en las azoteas de las viviendas para aprovechar el espacio, estar más cerca de la radiación, explica Ana Elisa Silva, de la UNAM

De la Redacción
 
Periódico La Jornada
Jueves 13 de febrero de 2014, p. 2

Con un método sencillo y económico basado en energía solar, Ana Elisa Silva Martínez, académica del Departamento de Ingeniería Sanitaria y Ambiental de la Facultad de Ingeniería (FI) de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), ha logrado encontrar una forma para desalinizar el agua.

Para ello, la investigadora usa las casetas plásticas tipo invernadero que captan y concentran energía solar, logrando desalinizar agua marina almacenada en un bote de 60 litros. Además, se pueden recuperar cinco litros de agua potable que caen a unas canaletas. Se consigue imitar un proceso de la naturaleza.

El método está pensado para abastecer del líquido a comunidades marginadas que habitan cerca de las costas, donde abunda la radiación solar y el agua marina, pero no la disponibilidad del recurso, que se consume intensivamente en las zonas turísticas.

Para producir agua potable usamos el agua marina y para desalinizarla aprovechamos la energía solar; así se evita el uso de electricidad, que falta en varias comunidades de escasos recursos, explicó Silva Martínez.

Hay muchos métodos para desalinizar el agua marina; nosotros elegimos la energía solar, porque es renovable. Es menos eficiente que otros y generalmente requiere grandes cantidades de terreno, pero nuestra propuesta es colocar las casetas tipo invernadero en las azoteas de las viviendas para aprovechar el espacio, estar más cerca de la captación de radiación solar y para que el proceso de desalinización lo realice la propia familia para su abastecimiento, detalló.

De manera natural, el agua es evaporada por el Sol, se condensa en las nubes y cae como lluvia, que no es salada. Si uno capta el agua antes de que se ensucie con la tierra es potable. Hacemos el mismo proceso, pero concentrado en una caseta plástica (destiladores solares tipo invernadero) que llevamos adonde se requiera, dijo.

Aprovechan la energía del Sol que llega al recipiente que tiene el agua y la calienta, así como el líquido que se evapora directamente de la superficie del suelo y el de toda el área dentro de la caseta, pues ponemos telas de algodón (como en tendederos) por las que el líquido sube hasta 75 centímetros de altura y se evapora, indicó.

En la instalación tipo invernadero, la investigadora tiene diversos medidores para conocer la cantidad de radiación solar que entra a la caseta, la temperatura del agua y del techo, la luminosidad y la humedad relativa.

Para enriquecer el rendimiento se han propuesto mejoras que optimizan la utilidad del sistema en la tesis de maestría en ingeniería de la alumna Mónica Guadalupe López Ortega, con lo que ahora es posible desalinizar cinco de los 60 litros con este método.

La segunda etapa del trabajo busca aprovechar la salmuera restante, para no desperdiciar el agua salina ya captada.La estudiamos para producir cloro e hidróxido de sodio, que sirven para limpieza y podrían usarse en la misma vivienda. Actualmente participan alumnos que realizan su servicio social en esta área de investigación.

El líquido que se procesa tiene de 40 a 100 miligramos por litro de sales, es decir, entra en la norma de la categoría de agua potable. Este método podría ser útil en regiones costeras de Nayarit, Baja California, Sonora, Guerrero, Chiapas, Jalisco, Veracruz y la Península de Yucatán.

Otra opción, resaltó la investigadora universitaria, es aplicarlo en comunidades no costeras, pero cercanas a acuíferos salados, como Ciudad Juárez; contaminadas con arsénico, como en la zona de La Laguna, en Coahuila o en Hidalgo, donde hay afectación por metales como cadmio y mercurio.