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Will This Invention Make California a Water-Rich State?

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Will This Invention Make California a Water-Rich State?
The ever-growing water crisis in California due to the ongoing drought was the ideal host for the biennial Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) competition.

According to Mother Nature Network, one of the 2016 finalists is appropriately named ‘The Pipe’. This artistic machines solves two initiatives; one is renewable energy and the other is drinking water (1).

Since 2010 LAGI has sponsored a biennial design competition for renewable energy. However, entries aren’t for just any ordinary type of machinery; they must fulfill the motto, “Renewable Energy Can Be Beautiful”.

The goal of these designs is to combine science and art to create not just functional machines, but ones that equally enhance the artistic aspects of life. Inventors are encouraged to think outside the box and go for the grandiose and magnificent.

Changing Competition Locations

The LAGI moves to a new city each year and considers proposals from anywhere in the world.
Santa Monica, CA specifically, the Santa Monica Pier, was selected as the 2016 competition host city. This location, according to LAGI, was perfect for the environmental possibilities of coastal winds and the Pacific Ocean tides and waves.

Following the California sustainable energy initiative, Santa Monica set the city goal to be water-independent by the year 2020. This mission made it an ideal choice for the 2016 competition.

Since California’s water crisis is so severe, the LAGI revised the 2016 competition guidelines. In the past competitions, the LAGI guidelines only allowed for artistic inventions aimed at renewable energy. In 2016, those guidelines were revised to address the unending California drought conditions creating ongoing water shortages.

It was appropriate that the revised guidelines allowed for the creation of designs to answer this vital and imperative need for drinking water. While not required, any entry that could provide both renewable energy and drinking water was considered the ideal sustainable infrastructure.


The Pipe, Finalist

Answering both challenges in the 2016 competition Khalili Engineers based in Canada designed The Pipe. This finalist is stunningly beautiful and innovative, glimmering on the waters off the coast of the Santa Monica pier, its solar panels glisten in the sun. Powered by this solar energy, the floating plant is a desalination wonder.

This huge desalination device operates via electromagnetic energy that’s fueled by the photovoltaic panels. Not only is the design functional and artistic, it would also be open to the public.

Featuring an education center, The Pipe also boasts a highly-prized ocean spa that takes advantage of the thermal baths generated by the desalination process. These brine waters are pumped back on the pool deck and eventually siphoned back into the ocean (2).

In addition to this functionality, The Pipe’s elegant design meets the public art requirement of the LAGI competition and also answers important environmental ideals through its processes.

How It Works

The photovoltaic panels (3) provide the energy needed to power the pumps that intake the seawater. The saline water then travels through the electromagnetic filtration system. That system uses an “isolated electromagnetic field on pipes circulating seawater, separating the salts and impurities. The process is rapid and energy efficient.”

This system is housed below the pool deck. The team states that the brine provides “the salt bath with its healing water and the city with clean drinking water.”

The team summarizes that “The Pipe represents a change in the future of water.” The Pipe is designed to generate an annual 10,000 MWh that powers the desalination processes that produces 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water.

The desalinated water has a 12% salinity and is pumped from the power station to the city using the existing water pipe system retrofitted to accommodate The Pipe.

The leftover salt water that goes into the thermal baths also passes through a “smart release” process prior to being returned to the ocean. This final process neutralizes the majority of the problems “associated with returning brine water to the sea.”

A $15,000 cash prize is awarded to the winning proposal and announced in October.

References & Image Credits:
(1) MNN
(2) Techxplore
(3) TSW: Sunedison Brings Solar Power to Villages in India

Originally published on


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Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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