Over a billion person in the world fund it difficult to get suitable water for drinking. This makes water scarcity a problem that requires urgency.
Cost and manufacturing are key challenges in using the solar-steam technology for seawater desalination and for the first time, wood-based structures can potentially provide solutions. – Liangbing Hu, associate professor of material science, a member of the University of Maryland Energy Research Center and the Maryland NanoCenter.
Liangbing Hu is an individual interested in making the devices needed for purifying water more affordable to many persons. Hu’s team is combining with other teams in order to make these devices easy to use and cheap for people to be able to buy it.
This process can be illustrated by pouring water in a bowl under the rays of the sun. A small block of wood 2 x 2 (inch) can be placed at the top of the water as it floats. The side of the block facing the sun can be darkened to grab the rays coming from the sun. As the heat of the sun reaches the wood, the water is absorbed into the wood. The darkened side of the wood that is hot then evaporates the water, so it has to be processed to change from gas to liquid and allowed to cool off. The impurities cannot pass through the wood so they are left at the bottom of the bowl.
There are different designs used to coat the wood and heat the water. One method is to use carbon nanotubes to in heating one side, while the other is to use metal nanoparticles. The only hindrance to the use of either method is that it is quite expensive to produce.
The method used by the team is a very different one, the method involves burning the side of the wood to create a dark surface. This method was tried by the team.
The success of the team was measured using the same method used in solar cells effectiveness. The efficiency of the solar steam generation tools used was around 87%. Compared with other methods mentioned above, it is the cheapest to produce. This will be good news to countries that are experiencing water scarcity. Advancing technology continues to help everyone.
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