Prakash Govindan, Alumni
- Clean Water
2012 PhD, Mechanical Engineering
“When I was in high school, there were severe droughts in Chennai and its surrounding villages which caused inexplicable suffering to the people of this region. Personally witnessing such suffering left an indelible impression in me of how important potable water is to dignified human existence, especially in poorer communities.”
Nature uses solar energy to desalinate seawater by the rain cycle. My ideas mimic the rain cycle in a system that is designed to operate at optimum thermodynamic performance. I have already patented these ideas, one applicable to rural community and the other applicable for urban communities, through MIT. The proposed systems will have minimal maintenance, no moving parts and will be built using locally available material.
I applied to and was accepted by MIT because I wanted to be part of a community that creates knowledge. I am dovetailing my educational experience and my innate leadership qualities in such a way that I can solve hard problems. Lack of potable water in the developing world is one such critical problem.
At MIT, I have developed a new desalination technology to optimally produce clean water from seawater using solar energy. This technology can be applied in a decentralized manner without relying on the electric grid. It will require minimal operating cost making it applicable to low income communities. I have also developed appropriate business models for commercializing this technology.
I was born and brought up in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. My parents grew up in a village in Tamil Nadu, a southern province in India with very high levels of water scarcity. Unlike other states in this region, it often suffers from the lack of monsoon rain and has endured several droughts in the past decades. A rapidly depleting groundwater table and the increasing pollution of water sources are among its many water problems. Hence, it is recognized by many that there is a pressing demand for a desalination system that can use the high levels of solar insolation (6 kWh/sq. m) available in the region and convert the seawater from the Indian Ocean into potable water. Thus, this region presents the ideal business opportunity for the systems I have started to develop at MIT.
With help from the experts and mentors at the Legatum Center and by my own hard work and perseverance I believe I can start and run a successful desalination business in my hometown.