Yang Bo, the first author and an associate professor at Northeastern University in Liaoning province, told the Science Times on Monday that their method “set a world record” in evaporation rate.
In the solar steam method, the evaporators absorb heat, turning the water into vapour and leaving behind the salt. The vapour moves to a collection space that is cooler, causing it to condense into purified water.
Yang told Science Times the vapour method was “green and efficient” and did not produce any carbon emissions as it relied on sunlight rather than pressure to desalinate.
Yang said the research provided “a new direction” for desalinating seawater that could effectively deal with water shortages while saving energy through its design, according to Science Times.
Thanks to its enlarged surface area, the team’s cylindrical evaporator is able to prevent salt blockages, which is essential to improving the performance of solar steam systems, according to the paper.
The scientists added that the process not only provides a more sustainable way to desalinate seawater but could also be extended to fuel production, steam sterilisation and electricity generation.