Friday, July 18, 2014

Solar Water Still By Alexander Graham Bell, Miami, Fla.

Coconut Grove, Fla.—Water distillation started longer ago than you might think. Alexander Graham Bell was converting salt water to fresh in a solar still before 1920. You can find one of his two stills at the Kampong National Botanical Garden. The garden was the former residence of Dr. David Fairchild and his wife Marian (youngest daughter of Alexander Graham Bell).

Alexander Graham Bell's solar water still, The Kampong, Coconut Grove, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
“Bell would come down here all the time to visit,” said tour guide David Jones, “He was known as the inventor of the telephone but he also invented other things.” Pointing to a heavy looking table like object 10-feet away, Jones said, “See that. It is a solar water still invented by Bell to distill salt water to fresh water.”

Jones went on to say that Bell had designed the stone table with a hollow center and top surface that was angled 12-degrees off horizontal. There was also a ledge, running the entire length of the interior, that held a sheet of glass.

Bell would fill the table with water, slide on the glass, and waited for the sun to evaporate the fresh water out of the salt.

“He had another one built in Nova Scotia, Canada," said Jones, "It is made out of wood but Bell knew it would not do well down here in Florida, so that’s why he chose stone for this one.”

To see this solar water still in real life you’ll have to book a private tour of The Kampong Botanical Garden in Coconut Grove, Florida.

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