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article imageSmart way to collect and purify water, inspired by a rose

By Tim Sandle     Jun 1, 2019 in Science
Austin - The shape and structure of a rose has inspired scientists to develop a smart way to collect and purify water. This low-cost invention provides a practical means to purify water in areas with scarce clean water supplies.
A key factor with the new device, which was developed by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, is that it only costs less than 2 cents to develop. Furthermore one single device can produce more than half a gallon of water per hour per square meter.
The new device it an iteration on the process of solar steaming for water production. This process presents an efficient, sustainable, low-cost and environment-friendly way to solve water shortage crisis. These are passive systems that, with some models, simply be left outside to absorb sunlight.
The general principle is that such devices are fabricated to absorb short-wavelength solar energy. This energy heats up the device, causing it to reradiate this heat in the form of longer-wavelength infrared radiation, to the water below.
With the new development, this is a device layered with black paper sheets, coated with an organic polymer, known as polypyrrole. The black paper is shaped into rose-like petals. The device can be attached to a stem-like tube which collects untreated water from a given water source. As the water flows through the device, the, the three-dimensional rose shape is more effective for collecting and retaining liquid, compared with earlier designs.
Polypyrrole has very good photothermal properties, which means the material is especially effective at converting solar light into thermal heat. This is key to the process. As water moves to the petal-like folds and reaches the polypyrrole material coating, the device converts the water into steam. Through this process, impurities (such as metal particles, salts or bacteria) naturally separate from water when condensed.
The development of the device is discussed in the journal Advanced Materials, with the peer-reviewed paper titled "Portable Low‐Pressure Solar Steaming‐Collection Unisystem with Polypyrrole Origamis."
More about purified water, Water, smart water, Water purification, Rose
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