A team of researchers from China and Singapore has 3D printed a device that uses the heat generated by the sun’s rays to make sea water safe to drink. The scientist’s new type of purifier is based on a fully printed ceramic core, with an integrated solar absorber, insulator, and water delivery device, which can collect and desalinate without any settings. The conversion efficiency of the equipment is 98% and it also meets the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), which may make it an ideal choice for solving the global water shortage in a sustainable and energy-efficient way.
Dealing with drought through desalination As the global population continues to grow, and climate change begins to bring new challenges, it is increasingly difficult to obtain safe drinking water in the poorer regions of the world. At the same time, the earth’s oceans account for more than 70% of the earth’s surface, but only 2.5% of fresh water for drinking, which makes seawater purification technology the best solution to the global water shortage. Although a variety of reverse osmosis, distillation and ion exchange-based desalination equipment are currently available, their high cost and energy consumption often prevent developing countries from using them. In order to bring clean water to people, therefore, more compact, distributed and energy-saving technologies are essential. Therefore, scientists are increasingly adopting solar energy equipment as prototypes for sustainable alternatives.
However, although many initial designs have proven the feasibility of using sunlight to purify seawater, they are usually mass-produced with limited control over their structure, so their thermal efficiency is not high. In order to increase the energy conversion rate from solar energy to steam, researchers have now adopted 3D Printing as a method to produce more energy-efficient equipment that can evaporate chemicals at a faster rate.
Ceramic-based solar absorption Using 3D printing technology, scientists were able to produce a multi-functional solar absorber based on porous ceramic mesh. Thanks to the inherent insulating properties of the material, the final part proved to be able to be used as a water transmitter, insulator and integral base of the device, on which a graphene absorber can be installed to collect solar energy.
By precisely adjusting its complex ceramic elements, the researchers were also able to provide it with integrated microchannels, allowing it to guide water around the device and maintain its overall steam generation rate. As a result, the team’s fully enclosed equipment finally demonstrated the ability to concentrate solar energy on its absorber without heat dissipation, and achieved a rapid cycle of self-contained solar evaporation.
Interestingly, during the initial test, the scientists found that by increasing the mesh spacing of the absorber to increase the water delivery rate, they could further optimize the performance of their equipment. In addition, by placing the absorber of the desalinator directly on top of the porous substrate without contacting the reservoir, the team was able to reduce any heat loss and maintain a high steam generation rate.
In subsequent outdoor experiments, the researchers’ equipment produced fresh water at a rate of 0.5 liters per hour while removing enough sodium, magnesium and potassium to meet WHO standards. Compared with cotton-based water absorbing agents, scientists also found that their ceramic-graphene solution evaporates minerals more than twice as fast, and the solar energy conversion efficiency is as high as 98%.
In the end, given the speed and ion rejection efficiency of its equipment, the team concluded that their overall approach was successful, and as the evaporator design further developed, they believed that the technology could “proven to be useful” to Enhance the performance of commercial equipment. The solar steam generator of the future.
The scientist concluded in the paper: “The collected water (during the test) meets drinking water standards in terms of chemical impurities.” “It has the characteristics of sturdiness, durability, non-toxicity and anti-fouling, and efficient 3D printing ceramic solar desalination equipment.
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