Publish Date: 12.02.2024

Category: News from the University

Photo:Josip Rošival (1962 - 1964), archive of the Sergej Mašera Maritime Museum, Piran

Ship technology could offer a solution for the saltpan cottages which are falling inexorably into ruin in the area of the Sečovlje saltpans. This has been determined by students of various University of Ljubljana faculties under the mentorship of Senior Lecturer Mag. Valter Suban of the University’s Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport. They were aware of the problem of degradation in the area of the Sečovlje saltpans, so they were looking for a way for the saltpan cottages to be reconstructed and changed into sustainable self-maintaining projects.  

The interdisciplinary project has shown that the saltpan cottages, which are falling inexorably into ruin in the Sečovlje Salina Park, could be reconstructed under sustainable development principles, whereby ship technology could be used for their self-maintenance in the form of an evaporator, which would separate fresh water from salt water.  

The reconstruction would need to begin at the foundations. Probes would need to be deployed for each cottage separately. The exterior walls are made of local stone, and for insulation they could use mineral wool. The roof could be reconstructed using wood shingles, hardboard panels, plasterboard panels, planking and photovoltaic tiles.  

Inside the building they would create a structure to house batteries, an evaporator and cisterns. This structure would be made high enough to withstand flooding. Electricity and heating for water would be provided by a small solar generator (mainly in summer) in combination with a wind generator (mainly in winter). The electricity generated would suffice for the everyday needs of the cottage. At times when there is neither wind nor sun, units would be powered from the battery energy storage system.  

The cottages would also be equipped with water collectors. Drinking water would be provided by evaporation. Reverse osmosis is another option. In their calculations the students determined that a wind pump would not suffice for generating the flow of salt water into the evaporator, so the pump would need auxiliary electric power. An evaporator for small vessels would be ideal. The quantity of fresh water produced depends on the position and size of the heat collectors and indirectly on the directional alignment. In any event this would suffice for the cottage’s daily needs. The salt water from the evaporator would be fed into the salt fields, thereby advancing the production of salt.  

This would in turn contribute to the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage. Saltmaking, which was once a highly prized craft, was in fact almost entirely abandoned after the designation of Sečovlje Salina as a nature park. The stone cottages, which were used as dwellings and for storage during the saltmaking season, became just overgrown ruins. “With the revitalisation of saltmaking in the Sečovlje saltpans, they could become a hub for the gathering of intellectuals, students and researchers, and the renovated cottages could serve in their original purpose and for social, cultural and scientific activities,” notes conservator Matjaž Kljun of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia, Piran Unit.