Efficient Water Desalination by Robust “Cleaning Sponge”

Significance 

The current unprecedented surge in population, combined with rising individual consumption of food, water, and natural resources, has begun to strain Earth’s capacity to sustain human life. The technology of solar steam generation which exclusively focusses on effective conversion of solar energy to thermal energy is highly anticipated to aid resolve this issue, specifically: the water issue. However, a novel concept that bypasses the application of the prevalent conventional technologies that employ complicated optical concentrators to enhance water evaporation, must be developed. At present, efficient solar steam generators have been seen to depend on efficient light-absorbers in the evaporators. Since metal-based absorbers are quite expensive, multilayer-composite absorbers have been developed. Nonetheless, these absorbers suffer from potential structural weakness and interfacial barriers to heat/mass transfer. Therefore, it is imperative that an inexpensive absorber of high energy conversion efficiency, possessing porous structures for efficient water desalination and of excellent mechanical robustness be developed.

Recently, Sun Yat-sen University researchers investigated the applicability of carbonized melamine foams obtained through one-step calcination as integrative solar absorbers to realize highly efficient solar steam generation. This was the first time such an application was being attempted. Their work is currently published in Journal of Material Chemistry A.

The research method employed commenced with preparation of integrative solar absorbers where the commercial melamine foams were heated in a tube furnace under nitrogen atmosphere. Next, the researchers characterized the porosity of materials > 99% with pore sizes in submicrometers as evidenced by the scanning electron microscopy. Additionally, cyclic compression tests indicated the mechanical robustness of the foams. Lastly, the system was tested for energy conversion efficiency.

The authors observed that the optimized integrative solar absorbers portrayed exceptional light absorption for solar energy due to the features of lightweight, high porosity, mechanical robustness innate from melamine foams, as well as low thermal conductivities attributed to the appropriate pore scale and high nitrogen content, beneficial for the decrease of thermal diffusions. In addition, they noted that the integrative solar absorbers could work out efficient water evaporation under a high humidity of 90%.

In summary, study by Sun Yat-sen University scientists presented a pioneering expedite where it was shown that carbonized melamine foams derived from commercial melamine foams via one-step calcination process could be used in high efficiency solar steam generation. Generally, it was seen that upon comparison with former reports, the optimized integrative solar absorbers reported herein exhibited one of the best performances for solar steam generation. Altogether, owing to their facile preparation, reusability, and aforementioned astonishing performance, the integrative solar absorbers can be anticipated to be possible solar absorbers for commercial, renewable and transportable solar steam generations.

Efficient Water Desalination by Robust “Cleaning Sponge”.. Advances in Engineering Efficient Water Desalination by Robust “Cleaning Sponge”.. Advances in Engineering Efficient Water Desalination by Robust “Cleaning Sponge”.. Advances in Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Xiaofeng Lin received his Ph. D. degree in Polymer Chemistry and Physics from Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU, China) in 2018, and was taught by Professor Xudong Chen’s group in Key Laboratory for Polymeric Composite and Functional Materials of Ministry of Education at SYSU. He is currently a research scholar from Professor Liming Dai’s group in the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU, USA).

His research is focused on controlled synthesis and characterization of ploymer/carbon materials for opto-electric and opto-thermal conversions.

About the author

Jiayao Chen received her Bachelor’s degree from the School of Materials and Energy at Guangdong University of Technology (China) in 2014. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor Xudong Chen in Key Laboratory for Polymeric Composite and Functional Materials of Ministry of Education at Sun Yat-Sen University (China).

Her research interests mainly focus on the construction of structural color materials and their applications in the anti-counterfeiting technology.

About the author

Zhongke Yuan obtained his B. S. degree in Material Chemistry at South West University in 2012. Currently, He is a Ph. D. student in the School of Chemistry, Sun Yat-Sen University, under the supervision of Pro. Xudong Chen in Key Laboratory for Polymeric Composite and Functional Materials of Ministry of Education.

His research interests focus on the electrocatalysis and electrochemistry of polymer based composites.

About the author

Meijia Yang received her Bachelor’s degree from the School of Chemistry at Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU, China) in 2011. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. under the supervision of Professor Xudong Chen’s group in Key Laboratory for Polymeric Composite and Functional Materials of Ministry of Education at SYSU.

Her research interests mainly focus on synthesis and application explorations of nanostructured carbon-based materials for electrochemical catalysis, Zn-air batteries and lithium batteries.

About the author

Guojian Chen obtained his Bachelor’s degree in 2015 from South China University of Technology. He is currently working towards his PhD at School of Chemistry, Sun Yat-sen University for doctoral training, supervised by Prof. Xudong Chen.

His research interest involves the preparation photonic crystals/metal nanoparticles composites and their application in fluorescence enhancement, Raman scattering enhancement, photoelectric conversion and optical anti-counterfeiting.

About the author

Dingshan Yu received his Ph. D. degree in Optical Engineering in 2008 from Sun Yat-Sen University (China). After post doctoral training at University of Dayton (USA), Case Western Reserve University (USA), and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) for more than six years, he joined Sun Yat-Sen University as a professor in 2015. Dr. Yu’s research interest includes design and synthesis of polymeric functional composites and carbon materials as well as their application in optoelectronic devices and energy storage and conversion system.

About the author

Mingqiu Zhang is a professor in Key Laboratory for Polymeric Composite and Functional Materials of Ministry of Education, Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU, China). He has over thirty years of systematic experience in polymers, polymer blends and polymer composites. He serves as a member of the Asian-Australasian Association for Composite Materials (AACM) Council and the standing council of Chinese Materials Research Society. In 2005, the Li Ka Shing Foundation and the Ministry of Education of China selected him as a Cheung Kong Scholar.

In addition, Professor Zhang is on the editorial board of eight scientific journals and holds twenty-eight patents.

About the author

Wei Hong is an associate professor in Key Laboratory for Polymeric Composite and Functional Materials of Ministry of Education, Sun Yat-Sen University (China). He received his Bachelor’s degree and Ph. D. degree in material science at Shanghai Jiaotong University (China). He joined School of Chemistry, Sun Yat-sen University in 2014.

His research interest includes structural colors, plamonic nanomaterials, and their applications in the anti-counterfeiting and energy conversion.

About the author

Xudong Chen is a professor in Key Laboratory for Polymeric Composite and Functional Materials of Ministry of Education, Sun Yat-Sen University (SYSU, China). He has over thirty years of systematic experience in polymers, polymer blends and polymer composites.

His research interests are mainly centered in the interaction between polymer-light, polymer condensed matter physics (spectroscopy characterization of polymer morphology structure and its change process) and high performance functional polymers and their application in the optical encryption.

Reference

Xiaofeng Lin, Jiayao Chen, Zhongke Yuan, Meijia Yang, Guojian Chen, Dingshan Yu, Mingqiu Zhang, Wei Hong and Xudong Chen. Integrative solar absorbers for highly efficient solar steam generation. Journal of Material Chemistry A, 2018, volume 6, page 4642.

 

Go To Journal of Material Chemistry A

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