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SJTU Team with International Partners Develop Solar Powered and Wind-driven Desalination Device

January 02, 2019      Author: Liu Fenghua

Recently, Associate Prof. Zhao Yuanbin's project team, SJTU, in cooperation with Associate Prof. George Daniels of City, University of London, DR. Wu Weiping's project team, Prof. Robert Bradley, Oxford University, published a paper in the Advanced Functional Materials, which is an essential advance in the desalination of seawater with clean energy. The paper makes a detailed explanation of the invention of geopolymer and biomass mesoporous carbon composite (GBMCC) based device powered by solar energy and driven by wind.

The paper, titled "Low Cost, Robust, Environmentally Friendly Geopolymer-Mesoporous Carbon Composites for Efficient Solar Powered Steam Generation", won a high praise by the reviewer and was selected as the cover of the Advanced Functional Materials. Its first author is Liu Fenghua, a doctoral students of SJTU Prof. Zhao's team. The project was also funded by Innovate UK (Grant 104013) and STCSM (Grant 17230732700).


High‐efficiency, environment friendly, renewable energy‐based methods of desalination represent attractive and potentially very powerful solutions to the long‐standing problem of global water shortage. Many new laboratory‐scale materials have been developed for photothermal desalination but the development of low‐cost, easy‐to‐manufacture, and scalable materials and systems that can convert solar irradiation into exploitable thermal energy in this context is still a significant challenge. This paper presents work on a geopolymer-biomass mesoporous carbon composite (GBMCC) device with mesoporous and macroporous structures for harvesting solar energy, which is then used in a device to generate water vapor with high efficiency using negative pressure, wind‐driven, steam generation. The GBMCC device gives water evaporation rates of 1.58 and 2.71 kg m-2 h-1 under 1 and 3 suns illumination, with the solar thermal conversion efficiency up to 84.95% and 67.6%, respectively. A remarkable, record high water vapor generation rate of 7.55 kg m-2 h-1 is achieved under 1 sun solar intensity at the wind speed of 3 m s-1. This is a key step forward todays efficient, sustainable and economical production of clean water from seawater or common wastewater with free solar energy.


Translated by Zhu Fengyan    Reviewed by Wang Bingyu