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Efficiently moving water upward against gravity is a major feat of human engineering, yet one that trees have mastered for hundreds of millions of years. In a new study, researchers have designed a tree-inspired water transport system that uses capillary forces to drive dirty water upward through a hierarchically structured aerogel, where it can then be converted into steam by solar energy to produce fresh, clean water.
The researchers, led by Aiping Liu at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University and Hao Bai at Zhejiang University, have published a paper on the new water transport and solar steam generation method in a recent issue of ACS Nano. In the future, efficient water transport methods have potential applications in water purification and desalination.
Preparation - Method - Liu - Phys - Org
"Our preparation method is universal and can be industrialized," Liu told Phys.org. "Our materials have excellent properties and good stability, and can be reused many times. This provides the possibility for large-scale desalination and sewage treatment in the future."
The new system consists of two main components: a long, porous, ultralight aerogel to transport water, and a carbon nanotube layer on top of the aerogel to absorb sunlight and turn the water into steam. The system is enclosed in a glass container. Water travels upward through the pores in the aerogel due to capillary forces, which are caused by adhesion between the water molecules and the inner surface of the pores. Once the water reaches the top, the solar-heated carbon nanotube layer heats the water into steam, leaving any contaminants behind. The steam condenses on the sides of the surrounding glass container, forming water droplets that flow down to the bottom of the container into a reservoir for collection.
Design - One - Plants - Plants - Xylem
This design is very similar to the one that plants use. Plants contain many tiny xylem vessels that draw water from the...
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