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SJTU Research Team Made Progress in Ultra-efficient Solar Desalination

February 08, 2020      Author: Institute of Refrigeration and Cryogenics

Recently, the journal Energy & Environmental Science (IF = 33.250) published a research paper titled "Ultrahigh-Efficiency Desalination via a Thermally-Localized Multistage Solar Still", shedding new lights on ultra-efficient solar desalination. This paper was completed by Associate Professor Xu Zhenyuan and Professor Wang Ruzhu from ITEWA team of IRC (Institute of Refrigeration and Cryogenics) together with Dr. Lenan Zhang and Professor Evelyn N. Wang of MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Shanghai Jiao Tong University is the first completion unit.

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51976123) and the Foundation of Innovative Research Groups Project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51521004). ITEWA (Innovative Team for Energy, Water & Air), led by Professor Wang Ruzhu, is committed to solving cutting-edge fundamental scientific problems and key technologies in the field of energy, water, and air. It also aims to obtain an overall solution at the material-device-system level with cross-disciplinary research and to promote breakthroughs in related fields. In the past two years, the team has published three papers in Joule and another four in Advanced Materials, Angewandte Chemie, iScience, and Energy Storage Materials respectively.



Passive vapor generation systems with interfacial solar heat localization enable high-efficiency low-cost desalination. In particular, recent progress combining interfacial solar heating and vaporization enthalpy recycling through a capillary-fed multistage architecture, known as the thermally-localized multistage solar still (TMSS), significantly improves the performance of passive solar desalination. Yet, state-of-the-art experimental demonstrations of solar-to-vapor conversion efficiency are still limited since the dominant factors and the general design principle for TMSS were not well-understood. In this work, we show optimizing the overall heat and mass transport in a multistage configuration plays a key role for further improving the performance. This understanding also increases the flexibility of material choices for the TMSS design. Using a low-cost and free-of-salt accumulation TMSS architecture, we experimentally demonstrated a record-high solar-to-vapor conversion efficiency of 385% with a production rate of 5.78 L m-2 h-1 under one-sun illumination, where more than 75% of the total production was collected through condensation. This work not only significantly improves the performance of existing passive solar desalination technologies for portable and affordable drinking water, but also provides a comprehensive physical understanding and optimization principle for TMSS systems.


Link: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2020/ee/c9ee04122b#!divAbstract


Translated by Zhou Rong      Reviewed by Wang Bingyu