Solar desalination with laser induced graphene
Project Description

A video introduction of the preliminary work of the project can be found at YouTube link:

https://youtu.be/ZFoypUiH0GE

Here are the detailed description:

Freshwater scarcity is a global challenge, and there are growing demands for freshwater
in daily life, agricultural and the industrial usages. Solar energy and seawater are both
unlimited resources. By combining the strength of these two resources, solar steam
generators possess high potentials for production of freshwater, using exclusive solar
energy without any carbon print. This interfacial solar steam generation method can
absorb solar energy and transform it into the form of heat, which can be used for
generating freshwater from seawater. This emerging technology has been rapidly
developed in recent years, and the evaporation rate up to several kilograms every square
metre per hour has been established. Our previous research had demonstrated that laser
scribed graphene can be used for solar steam generation with high scalability. However,
there are still some limitations on the current technologies achieved. Although the optical absorption of the material is very high within the visible light range, however, its
absorption for the infrared solar energy is relatively low. The Janus superwetting state
of the desalination membrane can help the mass transportation of the water, however,
there has been limited studies with the 3D configuration for the enhanced thermal
management. For the water passage medium using the laser scribed membrane, there
are few studies about introducing the gel type polymer for the enhanced transportation
of water. In addition, there are also few studies about the employment of laser scribed
membrane for the mass transportation phenomena of the salts. This project is going to
comprehensively study these essential aspects for this emerging technology. By
introducing the plasmonic nanoparticles within the carbonized membranes, the
enhancement of the absorption of light within the IR range will be studied. By
presenting the gel type polymer in the membranes, the improvement of water
transportation in the membrane will be explored. By hosting Janus superwetting states
on different sides of the membrane, the salt rejection performance will be experimented
for the laser scribed membrane. Eventually, after all these parameters are optimized, the
final membranes will possess higher performance for generating fresh water using solar
energy. This project is not only benefiting the fundamental understanding of the mass
transportation and solar energy conversion for the solar steam generation, but also has
strong potential for real applications, to use this knowledge for seawater desalination in
remote islands and other places, as a sustainable developing technology.

Supervisor
LI Mitch
Quota
4
Course type
UROP1100
Applicant's Roles

To design, build and test the solar desalination performance using the laser induced graphene.

Applicant's Learning Objectives

1. Investigate the enhancement of solar energy absorption in the IR range using laser
manufactured plasmonic nanoparticles.
2. Optimize the water transportation within the different gel type polymer structures of
the solar desalination membranes.
3. Study the influence of superwetting status on the air-water interface and the
corresponding salt rejection performance under solar illumination.
4. Enhance the overall performance of solar steam generator with optimized individual
parameters.
5. Build prototypes for solar steam desalination for seawater.

Complexity of the project
Moderate