Project Name: High-Efficiency, Zero Liquid Discharge, Multiple-Effect Adsorption Distillation
Funding Opportunity: Solar Desalination
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Hamilton, NJ
SETO Award Amount: $1,600,000
Awardee Cost Share:  $400,000
Principal Investigator: Dr. Howard Yuh

This project seeks to reduce the cost of creating fresh water from unusable waters while minimizing or eliminating the leftover brine waste. GreenBlu will advance its Vapor Adsorption Distillation with Energy Recycling (VADER) technology by creating a prototype of a commercial water distiller. By providing modular, distributed solar-thermal-powered water desalination, GreenBlu will help lower energy costs and improve brine disposal.

GreenBlu’s stand-alone module deployed with solar collectors
GreenBlu’s stand-alone module deployed with solar collectors. Photo courtesy of GreenBlu.


Current wastewater desalination processes use a lot of electricity and result in liquid waste discharge that has high disposal costs. To lower electricity input costs and eliminate liquid waste discharge, the team seeks to treat highly saline water with zero liquid discharge (ZLD), a process that purifies and recycles the water. The approach leverages the advantages of thermal distillation based on multiple-effect adsorption to separate out the impurities and dry out the recovered salt, chemicals, and minerals that may be repurposed. Because GreenBlu’s distillers are portable and modular, they can purify water from any water source using solar-thermal or waste-heat energy. The distillers and ZLD crystallizers are highly efficient, cost-competitive, and can generate usable salt.


The VADER method recycles the thermal energy used in the distillation process. This new distillation technique will triple the efficiency of thermal distillation. This process requires less pretreatment and testing than reverse osmosis, uses 30-80 times less electricity when desalinating seawater, and does not rely on a fragile membrane like reverse osmosis does.