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Making solar steam and salts from brine

By Paul Grad |

A low-cost “green” technology for water desalination and zero liquid discharge of industrial wastewater that has been drawing increasing attention is solar steam generation using nanostructured photothermal materials. However, the crystallization of salts on the surface of photothermal materials during steam generation leads to a gradual decline in the water evaporation rate. Researchers from Monash University (Melbourne, Australia; www.monash.edu) have overcome those challenges by developing a solar steam-generation system that achieves efficient and continuous clean water production from salty water with nearly 100% salt removal. Their design involves controlled water transport, which controls salt crystallization only at the edge of the evaporation disc, and gravity-assisted salt harvesting. The researchers created a disc using super-hydrophilic filter paper with a layer of carbon nanotubes for light absorption. A cotton thread (1-mm dia.) acts as the water transport channel, pumping saline water to the evaporation disc. The saline water is carried up by the cotton thread from the bulk solution to the center of the evaporation disc. The filter paper traps the pure water and the remaining salt collects on the edges of the disc.…
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