Most of us take clean water that is readily available via our taps for granted, while a large part of the world suffers from the scarcity of it. A variety of innovative solutions have been put forward, but we still have a long way to go before the availability of clean water is ensured to the entire world. The recent in such innovative solutions is the super-wicking anti-gravity aluminum panel that is capable of using solar power for purifying water.
The panel comes as a result of a joint collaboration between researchers from the US Army and the University of Rochester. The study has been published in Nature Sustainability. Armies of different countries will often find themselves in a situation where it isn’t possible for them to get clean and drinkable water. That is why the US Army is an active part of this research.
The latest technology by this joint collaboration involves a regular aluminum panel that has undergone treatment with ultrashort femtosecond laser pulses. This treatment has created a grooved ultra-black surface. The resulting surface renders the material highly absorbent – a property that’s called super-wicking. It can go against gravity and is capable of pulling water from the water reservoir upwards along the panel.
Because of the pitch-black material of the panel, it is capable of harnessing much more energy from the sun while being capable of holding on to most of it for the sake of heating water up. The evaporation process helps the panel get rid of contaminants in the water. Professor Chunlei Guo, professor of optics at the University of Rochester, said, ‘These three things together enable the technology to operate better than an ideal device at 100 percent efficiency. This is a simple, durable, inexpensive way to address the global water crisis, especially in developing nations.’
The system cuts down contaminants, including dye, urine, heavy metals, detergents, and glycerin down to a level that is considered safe for drinking. Furthermore, the device is reconfigurable and easy to clean. Guo said, ‘The biggest advantage is that the angle of the panels can be continuously adjusted to directly face the sun as it rises and then moves across the sky before setting – maximizing energy absorption.’
Do let us know what you think of this remarkable system!