The device could aid people lacking drinking water and those affected by natural disasters
You’ve seen Bear Grylls turn foul water into drinking water with little more than sunlight and plastic.
Now, academics have added a third element — carbon-dipped paper — that may turn this survival tactic into a highly efficient and inexpensive way to turn saltwater and contaminated water into potable water for personal use.
The idea, which could help address global drinking water shortages, especially in developing areas and regions affected by natural disasters, is described in a study published online today (Jan. 30, 2017) in the journal Global Challenges.
“Using extremely low-cost materials, we have been able to create a system that makes near maximum use of the solar energy during evaporation. At the same time, we are minimizing the amount of heat loss during this process,” says lead researcher Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, associate professor of electrical engineering in the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Additional members of the research team are from UB’s Department of Chemistry, Fudan University in China, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lab of Gan, who is a member of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics and UB’s RENEW Institute, an interdisciplinary institute dedicated to solving complex environmental problems.
Solar vapor generator
To conduct the research, the team built a small-scale solar still. The device, which they call a “solar vapor generator,” cleans or desalinates water by using the heat converted from sunlight. Here’s how it works: The sun evaporates the water. During this process, salt, bacteria or other unwanted elements are left behind as the liquid moves into a gaseous state. The water vapor then cools and returns to a liquid state, where it is collected in a separate container without the salt or contaminants.
“People lacking adequate drinking water have employed solar stills for years, however, these devices are inefficient,” says Haomin Song, PhD candidate at UB and one of the study’s leading co-authors. “For example, many devices lose valuable heat energy due to heating the bulk liquid during the evaporation process. Meanwhile, systems that require optical concentrators, such as mirrors and lenses, to concentrate the sunlight are costly.”
The UB-led research team addressed these issues by creating a solar still about the size of mini-refrigerator. It’s made of expanded polystyrene foam (a common plastic that acts as a thermal insulator and, if needed, a flotation device) and porous paper coated in carbon black. Like a napkin, the paper absorbs water, while the carbon black absorbs sunlight and transforms the solar energy into heat used during evaporation.
The solar still coverts water to vapor very efficiently. For example, only 12 percent of the available energy was lost during the evaporation process, a rate the research team believes is unprecedented. The accomplishment is made possible, in part, because the device converts only surface water, which evaporated at 44 degrees Celsius.
Efficient and inexpensive
Based upon test results, researchers believe the still is capable of producing 3 to 10 liters of water per day, which is an improvement over most commercial solar stills of similar size that produce 1 to 5 liters per day.
Materials for the new solar still cost roughly $1.60 per square meter — a number that could decline if the materials were purchased in bulk. (By contrast, systems that use optical concentrators can retail for more than $200 per square meter.) If commercialized, the device’s retail price could ultimately reduce a huge projected funding gap — $26 trillion worldwide between 2010 and 2030, according to the World Economic Forum — needed for water infrastructure upgrades.
“The solar still we are developing would be ideal for small communities, allowing people to generate their own drinking water much like they generate their own power via solar panels on their house roof,” says Zhejun Liu, a visiting scholar at UB, PhD candidate at Fudan University and one the study’s co-authors.
Receive an email update when we add a new WATER PURIFICATION article.
The Latest on: Solar-powered water purifier
via Google News
The Latest on: Solar-powered water purifier
- Ethnic primary school students benefit from clean energy on February 7, 2019 at 8:09 pm
ĐẮK LẮK — Nearly 500 ethnic students were given the gift of clean water for Tết thanks to a new solar powered water purification system at their school in the central highlands Đắk Lắk Province. Võ Th... […]
- How Humans Get in the Way of Clean Water on January 26, 2019 at 5:22 am
Boiling, the most common purification method ... One of them was a community water-treatment system in Rwanda that combined a settling tank, sand-based filtration and solar-powered ultraviolet disinfe... […]
- Mobile MaxPure solar filters bring pure water to refugees on December 22, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Each filter was placed in a carefully selected location where ... which increases costs and the dangers associated with roadside bombings, etc. By having a solar-powered water purification plant locat... […]
- How Solar-Powered, Mobile Water Purifiers Can Help Cities Cope With Bad Water on December 9, 2018 at 11:07 pm
When WorldWater & Solar Technologies deploys its mobile water purifiers—arrays of solar panels, batteries, and high-pressure pumps—the machines usually wind up in natural-disaster zones, off-grid vill... […]
- First-ever Fully Solar-powered Desalination System to Produce Pure Drinking Water for School Children in Kenya on November 15, 2018 at 1:27 am
... organization World Vision and Finnish water technology company Solar Water Solutions have launched a fully solar-powered water purification unit in Tseikuru, Kitui County. The unit provides safe d... […]
- ‘Rural Sindh needs innovative safe drinking water projects’ on October 12, 2018 at 1:29 pm
“Innovative project of solar powered water purification plant seems high promising model for rural Sindh and this is a ray of hope for people who rely on ground water which is contaminated,” he said. ... […]
- A Cheaper, Faster and More Effective Solar Water Purifier on May 17, 2018 at 1:24 pm
Researchers at the University of Buffalo have created what they believe could be a faster, cheaper and more efficient solar-powered water purifier. With some 850 million people without access to clean ... […]
- Southern centre rejects accusations of corruption in purchase of water purifiers on April 26, 2018 at 11:03 am
THE SOUTHERN Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC) has dismissed allegations that its procurement of solar-powered water purification systems is mired in corruption. “We have launched a probe ... […]
via Bing News