A magnetic system that dynamically adjusts the surface properties of a material used for solar-driven water purification has been created by researchers in China. Developed by Liangti Qu at Beijing’s Tsinghua University and colleagues, the system achieved higher evaporation rates when compared to static surfaces.
Clean water is in short supply in many parts of the world and purification and desalination processes can be energy intensive. As a result, developing ways of using solar energy to purify water by evaporation has been the subject of extensive research, yet it is far from being in widespread use. Even though this approach utilizes mainly the energy from the Sun to separate water from contaminants, it is still too slow for many practical applications.
Interfacial solar vapour generation offers a way to increase the efficiency of evaporation by concentrating the energy of the Sun’s rays only at the surface of water. Still, with static systems there is little control on the flow of water and its vaporization, and the harsh chemical environment of untreated water leaves such systems prone to rapid deterioration.
Now, Qu and colleagues have created a dynamic magnetically responsive system with controlled porosity and a shifting surface that achieves much higher evaporation rates than static counterparts.
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