Eikei Martinson and Brandon Moore, both Florida Atlantic University engineering students, spent nearly two years turning a Boca Raton inventor's sketch into a desalination machine that uses the vacuum created at the end of a 33-foot column of water to boil it at room temperature. The steam created from the boiling water is threaded into a condenser to create potable water.
The United States Geological Service estimates it costs $1,000 per acre-foot to desalinate seawater. Raviv said the students' machine will do it for one-tenth of that. It's cheaper partly because it can use wastewater from power plants to boil the water in the vacuum.
Power-plant wastewater is not hot enough to boil water under normal circumstances. But the vacuum the machine creates allows water to boil at a lower temperature, producing the steam that becomes drinking water.
I don't pretend to understand fully how it works, but if they can really do it, it could have a huge impact on public health around the world.