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Aquila Capital Transformation Award winner: how to desalinate water with solar energy

| Press Release

Milad Mohsenzadeh from the University of Melbourne has won the Aquila Capital Transformation Award for his research on a solar thermal desalination solution which can supply freshwater to remote areas

His paper describes an implementable solution to a problem caused by climate change and was selected from a large number of other applications

This research award is endowed with EUR 20,000

Hamburg, 09 January 2023 – Aquila Capital, the sustainable investment management and asset development company headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, has announced the winner of its third Aquila Capital Transformation Award. The prize, which is endowed with EUR 20,000, has been awarded to Milad Mohsenzadeh, a recent PhD graduate from the University of Melbourne and the current postdoctoral research fellow at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering. 

His research work focuses on desalinating water cost-effectively by using a floating solar distillatory and producing drinking water in remote or disaster-stricken areas. According to the award’s jury, this concept stood out from a large number of applications submitted by researchers worldwide. 

Roman Rosslenbroich, Co-founder and CEO of Aquila Capital, comments: “We initiated the Aquila Capital Transformation Award to derive implementable solutions from academic research. The winning paper combines all the essential criteria we look for, as the presented concept is innovative, practical and scalable, and its implementation would have a large impact. Water scarcity in remote areas is an increasing challenge induced by climate change, and the concept presented here provides an effective climate adaptation solution.” 

The members of the top-class jury this year were Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Professor Eicke R. Weber, a former director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Professor Yukari Takamura from the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Future Initiatives, Professor Armin Aberle, CEO of the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) at the National University of Singapore, and Professor Claudia Kemfert, Head of the Department for Energy, Transportation and Environment at the German Institute of Economic Research (DIW) and Professor of Energy Economics and Energy Policy at the Leuphana University Lüneburg. All contributions were evaluated according to the criteria of originality, quality and significance. 

Commenting on the decision jury member Professor Armin Aberle says: “The developed prototype of a cost-efficient desalination solution for remote areas is of the utmost relevance to combating the increasing scarcity of freshwater caused by the climate crisis. Desalination is an energy-intensive process where the availability of land for a renewable power supply has always been a limiting factor. The floating solar thermal technology proposed here can be efficiently expanded over water surfaces and does not require a water pump. Additionally, given this system’s design simplicity and the application of abundant materials, local manufacture without strong supply chain dependencies is feasible.” 

In accordance with this year’s theme “Solving the Climate Crisis through Innovation”, the Aquila Capital Transformation Award recognises outstanding scientific research focused on applicable and unconventional solutions to combat climate change and its resulting consequences. In addition to providing financial support for research, the annual award focuses on cooperation in the practical implementation of solutions. 

For more information on the Aquila Capital Transformation Award and the criteria applied in 2022, please visit: