Clean-Energy, No-Cost Skylight Makes Seawater Drinkable

Designer Henry Glogau's no-cost desalinating skylight is a finalist in the Lexus Design Award 2021.
Chris Young
The photo credit line may appear like thisDiscover Lexus

Designer Henry Glogau developed a skylight that provides free lighting and drinking water. The design stores the sun's energy during the day to light homes at night and distilling seawater into drinking water.

Glogau's Solar Desalination Skylight is a finalist of the Lexus Design Award 2021, and it aligns perfectly with the awards' principles of designing and engineering a better future.

The skylight utilizes a combination of free and abundant solar energy and seawater to provide basic services for homes in shantytowns.

Clean-Energy, No-Cost Skylight Makes Seawater Drinkable
Henry Glogau's Solar Desalination Skylight lighting a dark room, Source: Discover Lexus

The Solar Desalination Skylight works by evaporating seawater via the sun's energy. During the day, seawater is fed through a pipe into the bowl-shaped skylight where the energy of the sun is used to distill the salty seawater. The owners of the skylight can then use a tap at the base of the skylight to extract drinking water.

Then at night, the residual brine left over from the purification process is used to generate an electrical charge to power a diffused light. 

Engineering a better future

Glogau's design is cheap, practical and expertly makes use of abundant resources to tackle two key issues faced by inhabitants of campamentos, or shantytowns, in places like Antofagasta, Chile, where the technology is already being utilized by inhabitants.

Clean-Energy, No-Cost Skylight Makes Seawater Drinkable
Glogau (right) presenting his Solar Desalination Skylight in Chile, Antofagasta, Source: Discover Lexus

The Solar Desalination Skylight is one of the six finalists of the Lexus Design Award 2021. Glogau faces stiff competition: other designs include a terracotta-based subway cooling system that utilizes the untapped resource of wind generated by trains, and "endlessly reusable" cytologically-inspired packaging material.

Whether his design wins or not, Glogau is already having a great impact on communities, as can be seen in the video below which shows footage of the skylight's implementation in Chile, as well as a step-by-step process of how the desalination process works.


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