Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Using sunlight to the max

19.06.2017

Materials called transition-metal carbides have remarkable properties that open new possibilities in water desalination and wastewater treatment. A KAUST team has found compounds of transition metals and carbon, known as a MXenes but pronounced "maxenes," can efficiently evaporate water using power supplied by the sun1.

Renyuan Li, a Ph.D. student at KAUST, has investigated a MXene in which titanium and carbon combine with the formula Ti3C2. "This is a very exciting material," said Associate Professor Peng Wang, Li's supervisor at the KAUST Water Desalination and Reuse Center.


Membrances of MXene have potential for water purification.

Credit: © 2017 KAUST

Wang explains his excitement comes from their finding that Ti3C2 can trap the energy of sunlight to purify water by evaporation with an energy efficiency that is "state of the art." He says this clearly justifies more research toward practical applications.

Other researchers had explored the ability of MXenes to act as electromagnetic shielding materials due to their ability to absorb wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation beyond the visible range. So the KAUST discovery began with a simple question. "We decided to investigate, what is the interaction with this MXene and sunlight?" Wang explained. With his group's focus on desalination technology, using the sun's energy to convert water into steam was an obvious target.

The KAUST team's first observation was that Ti3C2 converts the energy of sunlight to heat with 100% efficiency. Also important, however, was that the sophisticated system developed during this research to measure light-to-heat conversion showed that various other materials, including carbon nanotubes and graphene, also achieved almost perfectly efficient conversion.

"I suggest the focus of the field should now move away from finding new photothermal materials toward finding applications for the many perfect ones we now have," said Wang.

To investigate MXene's possibilities in water purification, the researchers then fabricated a thin and flexible Ti3C2 membrane incorporating a polystyrene heat barrier to prevent the heat energy from escaping. This created a system that could float on water and evaporate some of the water with 84% efficiency at the illumination levels of natural sunlight.

For Wang, the next challenge is how to move from this basic research finding toward practical applications. Wang hopes to break through what he calls "the 85% efficiency barrier," taking photo-thermal purification of water into new territory.

In addition to maximizing the system's light-trapping capacity, the researchers want to investigate ways to capture the water vapor and yield a complete water purifying process. Wang is already in talks with one potential industrial partner.

Media Contact

Michelle D'Antoni
michelle.dantoni@kaust.edu.sa

http://kaust.edu.sa/ 

Michelle D'Antoni | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists have explored how testate amoebae survive in peat fires
19.06.2017 | Lomonosov Moscow State University

nachricht Mastermind
19.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

Im Focus: Graphene electrodes offer new functionalities in molecular electronic nanodevices

An international team of researchers led by the University of Bern and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has revealed a new way to tune the functionality of next-generation molecular electronic devices using graphene. The results could be exploited to develop smaller, higher-performance devices for use in a range of applications including molecular sensing, flexible electronics, and energy conversion and storage, as well as robust measurement setups for resistance standards.

The field of nanoscale molecular electronics aims to exploit individual molecules as the building blocks for electronic devices, to improve functionality and...

Im Focus: Quantum nanoscope

Seeing electrons surfing the waves of light on graphene

Researchers have studied how light can be used to "see" the quantum nature of an electronic material. They managed to do that by capturing light in a net of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Development of low-dimensional nanomaterials could revolutionize future technologies

19.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

Modeling the brain with 'Lego bricks'

19.06.2017 | Information Technology

Nickel for thought: Compound shows potential for high-temperature superconductivity

19.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>