Researchers create new solar material to make water drinkable

Although the land is mostly covered by water, only a small part of it (fresh water) is fit for consumption.

However, millions of people around the world do not have access to fresh water bodies that allow them to meet their consumption and health needs.

It is for this reason that the need arises to develop initiatives that contribute to solving this problem. Recently, the development of a new super absorbent and super light aluminum material financed by the US Army was announced with which they hope to offer soldiers the water resource they need, although the solution could be expanded for other needs.

In this sense, the researchers from the University of Rochester, responsible for the project, indicated that with this new aluminum panel it will be possible to efficiently concentrate solar energy and use it to evaporate and transform contaminated water into drinkable.

In reference to this, Dr., Evan Runnerstrom, program director, stated:

The Army and its combatants need water, so there is a particular interest in researching basic materials that could lead to advanced technologies for generating potable water.

A laser processing technology created by the researchers was used to turn normal aluminum into a black material, a state in which it adopted a high absorption property, also causing the water to move up against gravity.

Next, the researchers took the super absorbent aluminum and implemented it in their solar water purification system.

The results obtained with this purification technology were published in the journal Nature Sustainability in which it was also highlighted that it uses a burst of laser pulses of femtosecond duration (ultra-short) to make engravings on the surface of a normal aluminum foil. .

How does it work?

As the aluminum panel is immersed in water at an angle directed towards the Sun, it creates a thin film of water oriented upwards on the surface of the metal.

As this happens, the darkened surface of the aluminum retains almost 100% of the energy captured from the Sun, using it to heat the water quickly.

Finally, the darkened surface structures produce changes in the intermolecular bonds of the water, further favoring the evaporation process.

Referring to this process, University of Rochester professor of optics Chunlei Guo stated:

These three things together allow the purification technology to perform better than an ideal device, with an efficiency of 100 percent. [] This is a simple, durable, and inexpensive way to tackle the global water crisis, especially in developing nations.

In addition to this, the experiments carried out in the laboratory allowed to demonstrate that this method contributes to reducing the presence of those common polluting elements, such as glycerin, heavy metals, urine, dyes and detergents, bringing the water to a safe state for consumption.

Thanks to these advances, Guo hopes that in the future the water treatment technology will be put into service in countries that need to solve the water shortage in areas affected by drought, as well as in water desalination projects.

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