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Photoflow concept combines solar power with rainwater collection


September 12, 2013

PhotoFlow is a two-in-one concept design that combines solar power generation with rainwater collection

PhotoFlow is a two-in-one concept design that combines solar power generation with rainwater collection

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In many countries around the world the supply of electricity and clean water is often sporadic and of poor quality. Consulting and design company NOS is looking to address this problem with PhotoFlow, a two-in-one concept design that combines solar power generation with water collection and storage.

Many developing nations are located on or near the equator and receive more sunlight and rainfall than just about anywhere else on Earth, so why not make the most of this situation by combining solar power with water storage? That's the logic behind PhotoFlow.

The PhotoFlow design is composed of eight identical triangular photovoltaic panels that are mounted on a 400 liter recycled polyethylene water tank. When assembled, the panels measure 2 sq m (21 sq ft) and form an octagon with a slope of 3 degrees that allows water to funnel into a central filter and continue on through a hose into the tank. The inner layer of the tank is covered with a coating designed to control levels of bacteria and fungi and keep the water potable.

According to the designers, the assembled unit would be capable of generating around 340 kWh which feeds directly back into mains power.

Solar cells on each panel are covered in an anti-reflective adhesive that minimizes loss of light through reflection and utilizes a nano repellent film which helps to keep dirt from collecting on the surface and obstructing light. A lid is built into the end of each panel to allow easy access for cleaning and maintenance.

NOS is currently seeking funding for the project in the hope that one day PhotoFlow will supply homes in developing countries with these two vital resources.

Source: NOS Design via Inhabitat


So what sets this apart from having a photo-voltaic cell and water tank separately, apart from saving space (which is generally not a concern for undeveloped country).

Savin Wangtal

It woulds be a lot easier to just put a rain gutter along the lower edge of conventional solar panels.


A lot of expense and water is needed to keep solar arrays clean, so this would do both. Dust can really cut down the efficency of a solar panel.

Nelson Chick

What purpose does it serve ?

In India, where I come from, what we need is very inexpensive and simple RWH solutions. Anything complicated won't work in countries like mine !

Atul Malhotra

Depending on how much rain you get and how much electricity you need running all the downspouts to a waterwheel on the way to the cistern might work.


keeping solar cells cooler makes for more electricity generated by them and frequent washing will optimize both cleaning and keeping the solar cells cool and provides the water to do so exactly where it is needed !

Allen Lumley

I must agree with Slowburn, a gutter below a normal solar panel would be just as effective for water capturing. The problem with this setup is that the solar panels are not orientated to the optimal solar position, so their efficiency is going to drop.

Any case, solar panels are normally rained upon, so washing happens automatically, and cooling on its part is only required when it is not raining. So these are not advantages of this system unless some of the captured water is recirculated over the panels, which would add the need for a pump.


Could this idea be adapted for an underground water tank like these? http://www.ecosure.co.uk/acatalog/Underground_Water_Tanks.html

James Davis

So I don't imagine the thing actually produces only 340 kilowatt-hours and then just quits forever producing. That is what this unit implies--the kWh is a quantity of energy equal to 1224 MJ. I would imagine that the author was going for a rate of energy transfer, which would be watts or kilowatts. Very confusing when you just cut and paste without actually knowing what the cuts and pastes mean.

Murca Scatsculottes
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