In many remote communities, only subsurface groundwater is available for use. This water is often contaminated with salts, arsenic or even heavy metals such as uranium. Most purification processes involve high capital and operating costs and frequent maintenance. This is especially the case with state of the art membrane technologies such as reverse osmosis (RO) which is energy intensive and prone to scaling problems, and produce water that is deficient in key mineral elements that are important to crops. Additionally, the high energy requirement necessitates the availability of a reliable mains power supply, a feature that is often non-existent in remote locations. Furthermore, RO involves pure water being removed across a membrane from a solution at high pressure and therefore carries a large energy cost, and such membranes are also vulnerable to fouling, leading to a high maintenance cost.

Finally, mCDI can be operated using photovoltaic power since only relatively low potentials (< 1.5V) are necessary for salt and contaminant removal. The UNSW and CTET teams developed a prototype powered by photovoltaics that uses energy recovery technology patented by UNSW to reduce