Clean freshwater is an essential ingredient for healthy human life. However, over 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to freshwater. With our already depleted natural freshwater resources and push towards climate neutrality, outlined by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, there is significant stress on the world’s water purification technologies. Capillary-driven solar evaporation provides a very promising basis for the development of cost-effective, deployable, and eco-friendly freshwater solutions to deal with this pressing global challenge. Solar evaporation is energy intensive, however, and the contamination of the capillary structures can block fluid pathways, leading to a low water yield. The concept of exploiting hydrogels as capillary-driven evaporators (CDE) in carbon-free solar desalination offers the exciting prospect of high efficiencies, cost-effective materials, and longevity. However, the transport characteristics, thermo-fluidic behaviour, and in situ structural dynamics that affect freshwater generation, are not properly understood. This project aims to develop and demonstrate high-efficiency passive solar-water desalination devices by gaining an in-situ non-invasive insight into the underlying physics of hydrogel CDEs using x-ray inspection (XRI).
Prof. Evelyn N. Wang’s research lab at MIT (Device Research Laboratory, DRL) is a global leader in nanoscale transport phenomena, materials chemistry, and converting nanoscale to the device-level. The DRL will train me in these areas, and provide facilities for fabrication, XRI, and device-level solar-water simulation. During the outgoing phase, I will be incorporated into MIT’s training environment, thereby enabling my personal growth and career development, understanding of climate challenges, and awareness of diversity issues. On return to the Bernal Institute, I hope to establish myself as a leading investigator in the clean water sector, creating a new research group within Europe.
Fields of science
- HORIZON.1.2 - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Main Programme
Funding SchemeHORIZON-AG-UN - HORIZON Unit Grant
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