Challenges and Roadmap for Solar-Thermal Desalination

Yanjie Zheng, Rodrigo A. Cáceres González, Marta C. Hatzell, Kelsey B. Hatzell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Decarbonizing desalination systems requires combining renewable energy technologies with desalination systems. Solar thermal desalination, which combines a thermal desalination system (e.g., distillation, multistage flash, etc.) with a concentrated solar system is attractive in geographic regions with an abundance of saline water and solar energy. However, the high economic cost and low efficiency limits its adoption. This review provides an overview of the techno-economic, materials, and performance challenges that need to be overcome to realize solar-desalination. The review describes the four most prominent pathways for overcoming thermodynamic and cost limitations present in current systems. Specifically, methodologies and approaches such as direct solar evaporation structures, low-cost thermal energy storage, solar cogeneration schemes for power and desalination, and solar hybrid desalination are discussed. These strategies can enable solar thermal desalination technologies that are resilient to intermittent solar energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1082
Number of pages28
JournalACS ES and T Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 11 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Chemical Health and Safety


  • Desalination
  • Solar
  • Thermal Energy


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